Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Extreme Pattern Modification (or, 4th time is the charm?!)

Just to give you an idea of what I HOPE is going to be the last time I show you these pattern pieces..and an idea of what I've been working on...a bunch of made-up & super-modified pattern pieces.

This first one, you've seen.  It's what the Bonus Basic Pattern recommended I do to modify the pattern so it fits better.

The 2nd shows how I had to move the point of the bust dart down.  And up close you can see that I added close to an inch along there to hopefully ease in enough fullness.

The 3rd photo shows what I think the new neck facing should look like (front & back) based on the modifications to the bodice pieces (you'll notice in photos 1 & 4 that it's gone from a round neck to a V-neck).  Also in this photo is the pattern for the collar.  On the other 2 or 3 versions (I've lost count!), this was actually the one thing I made up that worked quite well (here's one example).

However, in that first version, the collar looked great & the facing worked well, but the neckline was quite big (lots of skin showing--not really what I wanted for a cozy winter dress). It's quite cold out at the Reference Desk--there's always a stiff breeze from the A/C, winter or summer, so I really didn't want direct air-to-neck contact, at least not in my cozy thin-wale corduroy dress.

And in the 4th photo you'll see up close how I modified the front neckline.  Then I just used this to create the facing you see in the 3rd photo.

Do I know what I'm doing? Not at all.  Am I going to get to the dress before we leave on vacation?  Probably not.  Will I have a ton of free time when we get home to finish it?  Again, probably not--we'll be moving into the new south wing, a friend is visiting from the Netherlands to do research at the Library of Congress and we're headed to California to celebrate the Roommate's birthday w/ his family.  Hmmm.  But I've heard the winter is going to get quite bleak come Jan/Feb here on the East Coast--so that might motivate me to finish.

Wish me luck in the new year!  And thank you for your kind attention this year...I'm mostly enjoying blogging, but do find it a chore to keep my sewing up in order to write about it! Not really, I love sewing, but am starting to pine for the days I only worked part-time!

Music?  B.i.l.l.i.e H.o.l.i.d.a.y by Warpaint

Friday, December 16, 2011

Who likes Kuba?! We like Kuba!!

We went to see the Weaving Abstraction exhibition at the Textile Museum last Sunday, and it got me wanting to take a look at our raffia fabric.  So, rather than take them out of their special box and risk getting them coated with dust (the south wing is under construction & wall board/sheet rock is just as dusty as you've heard), I just looked up the photos from the digital archive.

On the right is a piece of kuba cloth.  It's dyed woven raffia (the long inner fibers from palm leaves).  And then the lighter designs are REVERSE-appliqued on!  This particular piece is a men's ceremonial skirt, about 30" wide, but 14' (yes feet!) long.  That's about 4.5 meters.  The designs are amazing--graphic & modern.  And not very easy to execute.  As I've said before regarding molas, applique is hard enougn; reverse applique--yikes! And working with raffia must not be easy either--it's stiff and breaks, unlike fabric or yarn.  I suspect they do some of their work when the raffia is damp, to make it more flexible.

The next three are also ceremonial skirts, which would be tied on with a belt.  They are kasai velvet or raffia velvet.  Think of a carpet, from Iran or Turkey, made with raffia, but without knotting.  Amazing geometric designs, huh?

The amout of work that must go into these is just amazing, and again, the tools are simple, but the artistry is exquisite.  We bought all of these a a shop in Ouagadougou, even though they items were made in the Congo.  Unfortunately the Congo isn't that safe, so Burkina Faso was where we did our kuba/kasai shopping!

These three skirts measure about 2' square.  You really can't go much longer than that because the raffia fibers don't get much longer than 24-30".  For the longer kuba cloth skirts, they are also 24-30" wide, but many squares are sewn together to get the length.  We saw one at the exhibition that was over 30' long!

If you'd like to see more amazing kuba & kasai, check out Hide & Seek Africa; their items are for sale, and the site gives a glimpse into the variety of designs these artists create.  Here's a photo taken of young boys in 1970, showing how the extra long kuba cloth is wrapped around & around & then tied.

Raffia velvet is rather interesting because both genders produce it.  Generally speaking, men weave the base cloth from raffia (plain woven fabric), then women do the embroidery, creating the intricate designs & trimming the raffia to different lengths to create different pile heights.  These different heights, different colors & geometric designs help to create true works of art--try to see them in person if you can!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My new BFF!

I was at a giant hardware store this morning buying closet organizing stuff for the south wing (which is being painted--getting close to being finished!).  I decided to ask one of the employees about a small screwdriver for the extremely low clearance needed to get to the "frozen" screws on the needle plate of my sewing machine (less than 2" & the screwdriver that came with the machine doesn't work).  And he showed me this (and 2 others in a packet for $3.88)!

I took them home, applied them to the previously unmovable screws and Viola!  In about 5 seconds I had both screws off.  Amazing what the right tool can do!  Lever + Screw = Ability to Move Universe!

I vacuumed out under the needle plate, put the bobbin holder back in where it should be, and used the machine tonight to do all the darts on the bodice, and also finish putting the collar pieces together.  My lovely Singer Quantum 9910 is running like a dream again.

And I got 6 new tools, which I think will be useful elsewhere, not just in the sewing studio!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Breaking News! Sewing machine freezes as latest version of Simplicity 7051 is begun

I think this may qualify as an epic fail! I was all ready to start sewing my 2nd try to create Simplicity 7051 out of Simplicity 7501, and my sewing machine went berserk.  The bobbin holder moved, a lot, and I cannot get the screws out of the needle plate!  This actually came up a few months ago, and right after I got it (15 months or so ago), as I usually clean out the machine when I start a new project.  I couldn't get the screws out--they don't budge a bit--and thought, well, they'll loosen up.  I've tried a few other times over the last year+, to no avail.

Two months later...they are so amazingly tight that the Roommate, with all his brute strength didn't have any luck either, even after leaving some WD-40 on for 30 minutes. We're going to try a few more times (knocking on the screwdriver lightly with a hammer and trying with the screwdriver bit on the power drill).  And if nothing works, I'm going over to Sun Sew & Vac, as tomorrow is my day off, and see if they have any luck.

I had already taken a photo of my pattern additions, as part of my I Just Can't Make It series:
As you can see from above, I had to make a collar, and then make front & back facings as I changed the neckline a bit.  (I made it a V-neck to accommodate the collar, and wanted the back to not be quite so high.) I had just sewn up one of the 2 collar pieces when the machine stopped working.  Egad--will I ever get my narrow-wale corduroy dress?  Waaaaaaa!  That is a very wide-wail you're hearing!

As Ms. Sewaholic had her readers write in about their favorite online fabric shops last week, I just wanted to mention that I bought 2 more yards of the fabric you see above (remember this is at least my 2nd or 3rd try on this dress), which was on sale for 1/2 price at  I had checked the store, but they were out of it.  It came quickly, and I was pleased with the service, but then I'm not a real test-case as I had seen the fabric already in person.  I'm not so sure about buying fabric completely online, though many Sewaholic commenters seemed to have quite good luck & have done it often.

Instead, today, the Roommate & I went to see 2 Warhol exhibits that are on the Mall right now & are closing soon.  It's one of those, "We'll get over there soonish" things & that was 6 months ago. Last weekend when we were in DC to go to the Kuba/Kasai fabric show at the Textile Museum, we happened upon a brochure reminding us that if we didn't get to the Warhol exhibits at the NGA & the Hirshhorn we'd be out of luck as they are ending in early January--and we're going on our xmas trip soon. (A hint: the only place in the world where you can see Darwin's finches!)

So the Warhol stuff was great & great fun, especially Shadows.  And certainly distracted me from the broken sewing machine!  Not really broken, just frozen...

And the fish tacos we made when we got home?  That totally took my mind off winter corduroy dresses!

Music?  Since I mentioned an (English) Beat album in the earlier, I feel compelled to use one of their songs, which fits quite well with this post, too:  Save It For Later!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A break from 7501: Fun Shirts!

When we lived in Abu Dhabi, fabric was about US$.27/yard (= 1 dirham/yard).  And yes, I had a huge stash, most of which got left in Istanbul when we fled...

Anyway, it was another $9 or so to have a shirt made for the guess what?!  He has about 30 of them (or is it 35? - we've never seen them all in one place).  I thought you might like to see just a few of the fabric patterns.  We call them fun shirts, you can probably guess why.

Monday, December 5, 2011

If at first you don't succeed...

Remember this?  It's 7501, which I bought by accident, thinking I was getting Scruffy Badger Time's 7051!?  Well, tucked inside (you'll see it mentioned on the front of the packet, too) is a Bonus Basic Pattern (in women's sizes).  I'm not sure what that means, because I think it sounds like there's another pattern inside.

But what it does mean is that there is this groovy chart about how to get a pattern to fit.  It has these cool drawings of 6 women (with wonderful haircuts--I want the right hand model's please), and you pick what usually happens to you when you put on a dress made from a pattern: Does it pull across the shoulders because yours are broad? Do you have round shoulders or a small bust?

Then pick a drawing, and follow the pattern adjustment instructions to correct the dress so it's right for you.

Now, if you've been reading about my struggles w/ 7501 (which is too big for me) and trying to turn it into 7051, you are probably wondering why I didn't go straight to the Bonus Basic Pattern right from the start.  Well, I did read thru it, but then defaulted to my (rather lazy) typical response--things usually fit me pretty well and I've never had to make many adjustments except for hems & sleeve lengths (I have short arms).  Also, the Bonus Basic Pattern is really about adjusting or enlarging a pattern, and I needed instructions for downsizing.  So I read thru it & neatly folded it back up & put it into the packet.

Weeks went by and I went thru 3 sets of toiles, trying to get the bodice right.  (Read all about it here, here, herehere & here.) I finally gave up and decided to modify this pattern, Simplicity 9602, which is from my mom (I remember when she made it for an Xmas party) to give it a collar like 7051.  And that  ended up too small.  So I added where I thought I should to make it bigger.  And it turned out way too big!  Honestly, I almost feel as if I've never sewed before.  I have to keep looking at things I have made, that do look good to remind myself I'm not a beginner!

So now I finally decide to read the instructions!  So here they are (this is the obverse of the page above):
See the top right where it says "very full bust?" That's me. So that's what I did, lots of slashing (I worked up my nerve by reading Tilly's Sleeve Slasher post a few times) and taping.  I couldn't find any pattern tracing paper nearby (haven't been to G Street yet, though) so just made do with used printer paper.  I drew 1" lines on the paper so that I knew things would match up, and started slashing.  I reassured myself that if I totally screwed up, 9602 comes with a 2nd bodice pattern, which is a bit different at the neck, but is the same for the sleeves & darts.  

To the right you'll see my masterpiece, with all the bits measured & taped together.

I found some weird polyester pale green stuff in a box downstairs...a real "Where the heck did that come from?" moment.  But it should be fine for my 4th (yes, fourth) muslin.  I've cut out the bodice & put all the markings on it; we'll see if I get to it this weekend.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The New Domesticity?! A step back for women?

This article was in the Washington Post last week, and the subtitle is Fun, Empowering, or a Step Back for American Women?

First, I'm not sure why it's a step back only for American women; are the women in other countries so backwards they can't step back?  But whatever, it's interesting that any traditional work calls to mind the good old days, when women were downtrodden & men were men.  But I tend to think that any knowledge that makes us self sufficient is only that--knowledge.  Knowledge you can gain from your grandmother, or a book, but it's useful stuff to have in your head.  And if you enjoy doing it, why not?  Why analyze?  I say just enjoy & be glad you get something useful at the end of it.

I tend to think I have a little different perspective on women's rights as I lived in Japan, Oman & the UAE for 11 all three countries, women are well-educated, but have varying degrees of freedom & choices.  And I live in the US, where there's a scary drive to put women back into the 19th century by taking away abortion rights and even birth control choices.  I'm not complaining about the opportunities and choices & the fact that I'm paid a fair wage similar to my male counterparts, but I also know that whenever men (or women) start telling other women what they can do with their bodies, choices start disappearing quickly.

I knit, sew, make kim-chee by hand and do lots of cooking.  However, I do not do the laundry by hand, or clean my carpets by taking them outside and beating them--I've got a vacuum.  I don't walk the 7 miles to work; I use the metro.  I'll do whatever I can to make chores easier & faster; but for the "chores" I enjoy (is knitting & sewing a chore?), I don't mind doing them the old-fashioned way.

We do make our own yogurt--mostly because I want to know what's in it. However, I don't do it the way I did in Taiwan--over a gas pilot light on the stove--instead we have a little plug-in device.  Same for the kim-chee: I want to put my cool stuff in it (chiles, caraway seeds, lemon slices), and would never buy any in the store.  I never dream of pumping my own water (like my grandmother did) and the few times I've had to heat water to wash in (while camping or if the power is out), I think of my grandma to gain strength, but am glad it's a one-off.

What do you think? Are we moving backwards?  What chores are hobbies?  What chores are chores?  I'd love to read your comments!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

MidEast fashion designers!

If you're at all interested in the Middle East, culture, food, music, history, architecture, whatever, I highly recommend Saudi Aramco World, a free magazine with amazing photography & articles that are guaranteed to enlighten you.  So, in the latest issue, there's an article about fashion designers from the area, entitled Nouvelle Vogue in the MidEast, by Alex Aubry.  The clothes are beautiful, but what really interested me is the fabric finishings, especially the embroidery, using traditional techniques on modern clothes.  I clipped a few examples from the website; to find out more about the designers & see more photos, go to the article link, above.

First, isn't this fabric pretty? I am not sure how comfortable it would be, but I bet it's very flattering...

And check out the detail on the sleeve & shoulder of this blue blouse! First of all, I love that little sleeve dart to make such a nice cap over her shoulder.  Second, the embroidery is so simple & interesting--and it makes an epaulette, sort of.

This last outfit has more embroidery along the skirt.  Very striking.  I love that rich almond brown, & the red trim makes such a nice contrast.

Music?  Otis!  Any Ole Way

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ahh, those days w/ servants!
The Roommate & I have a very old cookbook (early 1900s) and it mentions which part of the recipes you should have your maid do.  Along those lines, obi (帯), the traditional oversized belts worn by Japanese women w/ their kimono are difficult to put on by yourself; you need at least another set of hands, and strength.

So I got a kick out of an article I saw on the plane about Sayuki, the first white geisha, who has begun selling つけ帯, or self-tie obi!  Here's the website, in case you need to get yours before the new year holidays, and there's a video about how to put it on--without the help of your servant!  According to Sayuki, geisha have been using such obi for years...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Japanese crafts

Thought you'd like to see two interesting gifts that the Roommate & I received from students when we lived in Japan.

On the left is an origami Girls' Day display.  Girls' Day, also known as Hinamatsuri (雛祭り), or Doll Festival, and in most homes there would be a large or small display of dolls (doll size influences display size).  At the top are the Empress & Emperor, then below, various courtiers, including guards & musicians.   A student had made this as part of a class assignment for public school, then brought it in to show the Roommate.  He asked what she was planning to do w/ it:  "Throw it away."  NOOOOO!  So of course he brought it home to me & it's been treasured ever since & on display in the 9 places we've lived since then.  It's in my sewing room now.

On the right is a cloth representation of Murasaki Shikibu (紫 式 部), a pen name for one of the earliest novelists anywhere.  She wrote The Tale of Genji in the 11th century.  When we left Japan, one of my students gave it to me.  Her mother had made it.  I thought it was nice, but my co-workers informed me that the student's mom is probably an expert & most likely a teacher of this craft--they could see the artistry and skill in it, even if I couldn't.  I do love it though, and it's been another treasure that has decorated our various living quarters throughout the world.  

You may remember that my yukata was made from fabric representing Japanese women poets lounging.  Here's the post showing that fabric.  I have tried to decipher the very stylized writing to figure out which poet is which--but I haven't figured out which one is Murasaki yet.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vintage girl's pattern - blue coat - lining!

I got a request for the lining, so thought I'd get this up.  My mom got all the fabric, lining & buttons on the army base when she lived in Germany.

Here's the post where I talk about the coat & you'll see some old photos there.

And here's the post where you can see the pattern that my mom used.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hipsters vs. Old People: How to Tell the Difference

Or is there one?!  This is so true it hurts!

This is from a site called

If you're wondering, yes I am sewing (mostly unsewing) and trying to decide whether or not to re-cut the bodice (I always buy an extra 1/2 yard for mistakes & mind changes!).  Fortunately for me winter hasn't arrived...yet!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vintage Pattern - Girlswear

You've seen the photo of me in my little blue coat (and seen the coat by itself--it's one of the many items of children's clothing in our bedroom).  Well, here's the pattern.  Looking thru the vintage patterns I have from my mom, I came across this & thought you might enjoy seeing it.  

It's Simplicity 2336 & is from the early 1960s.  

Hopefully my mom will comment to let us know where she got it (Germany or the US?).  If it was Germany I'm sure it was on the army base; apparently it was easy to get items from the US on army bases (maybe it still is?).  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's all over now, Baby Blue!

I woke up this morning with this song in my head:  Blue Sky, Allman Brothers, Dickie Betts singing.

Actually, I'm pretty happy, so I almost always have happy music in my head.  But that inspired me to try one more time...well, 4 more hours.  I just keep finding that if I made the darts big enough, it really messed up the bottom & sides.  And taking up in the middle (adding a 1/2" seam down the middle of the front on the muslin), just didn't seem to do it.  I also found (and am finding with the pattern I'm now adapting, too) that what fits on Helen, when cut out & sewed doesn't fit...sometimes not even close!

I never thought pattern making was easy; a friend in NYC does this for a living, and she's very much in demand, but I was right--it's difficult.  So I gave up & went thru my vintage patterns & found this one, Simplicity 9602, from my mom.  It's the right size--a 12 in the old size; 1971.  I still have to modify it a bit because I want a V-neck & a collar (still trying to get Scruffy Badger's Simplicity 7501!).  But since I'm starting with the correct size, not 6" too big, I'm hoping this will go better & faster.

I am finding that sewing with corduroy is a bit of a challenge.  I have to pin more & sew slower or everything crawls around.  And I'm used to pressing cotton, or linen, which is so hardy.  I'm using a very light hand so I don't mash the corduroy.  Here's the fabric in case you've forgotten thru all this what it looks like.  I was in Hancock again today (forgot a zipper, so I bought 3), and they still had the pincord (thin corduroy) on sale, so I got more...purple this time!  Another print, of course!

I've missed this class (ends 11/30): Bits of Thread Pattern Making class - Bodice, but this experience has definitely made me interested in taking the same thing, hopefully in the spring.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reader, I gave up...or not!

It's been a day and a 1/2.  I am still trying to get this vintage 1967 (too large) Simplicity 7501 to fit correctly. (Here's the original blog where I explain how I mixed up 7501 & 7051.)  And here's Scruffy Badger Time's post about her cool pattern that I just had to have...

I thought I had it on this version, then I had a horrible time getting the back to fit.  You can see on the left what the piece I was using looked like when I started (and that was after many adjustments), and on the right is what actually works & fits!  After what felt like a zillion more adjustments.

I finally got the  back looking okay and realized that, perhaps because of the large darts, that the front was about 2" shorter than it should be. (I figured this out when it didn't match up at the side seams.)  So I had to start w/ new fabric (the green is #3, after the purple & the red).  I could have gone on with the shortened front bodice, but because I was worried about darts, I decided to use up some cheap fabric I bought a while back.  My other thinking was that if it works out, I might actually wear the green dress...

You can see that Bella is very supportive.  She likes supervising me when I'm working.  She especially likes the warm light & the warm computer & playing with thread.  She gives lots of head bumps so that keeps me going.  

So, I got it fitting fairly well, so decided to move on to modifying the neckline & adding a collar.  That took lots of pattern drawing & redrawing, believe me, to get the curves to match at the sides & back of the neck.   But I felt pretty sure that I'd changed the darts enough that it would be pretty close.  Not so.  :-((

I finally got the collar & facing done & tried on the bodice again, and I'm pretty fed up.  Now the front isn't fitting right anymore, though I think the collar & back look good. What the heck is up with that?  I played with it a bit, but can't quite figure out what to do to remove that bulk & get it to fit correctly.  You can see the 2 arrows I drew toward the problem in the picture to the left.  I started ripping out seams before bed & will give the darts yet another look. I'm quite pleased with the collar, though...but am almost thinking the neck is too big for a winter dress.  At the reference desk there's a vent that is always blowing on our necks, so I'd have to wear it with a silk scarf or something.  I do have a ton of jewelry, so a neckline like this is a good way for me to display that collection.  (Ah, yes, there's another collection; this house is full of them, which is why we need the new South Wing that's being added.)

I am going to give it another try.  Or maybe not.  I will see how I feel in the morning after yoga class & a trip to Heidelberg Bakery!

I took a look through some other vintage patterns I got from my mom.  I found 2 that might work, not exactly what I want, but that will work with the fabric I bought.

And I'm rather under the gun on this.  I know once I really start it won't take that long, but I've only got thru this Monday, really.  I just don't have that much time and we'll be away for Thanksgiving and Xmas & then again to California in if I don't get it done soon, it won't be done before spring & won't be much use to me then.  I'll be thinking about spring colors by then!

In the meantime, you'll find me on Bonanza or Ebay looking for a Simplicity 7051 or something similarly cool in my size!

I'm wondering if a belt would take care of that waist bulkiness?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bella models the W. African fabric quilt; knitted socks

You may have seen the list of items I've made (I've made more, but don't necessarily have pics, or haven't put them up); this in particular, a tablecloth & 2 small quilts I made of fabric we bought in Ghana & Burkina Faso.
Well, it's winter here now (cold & rainy tonight), and Bella is staying warm by avoiding the hard wood floors and the leather love seat!

And here are some nice warm wool socks from back in the late 1980s when I was knitting socks a lot.  They're the Roommate's.  They haven't been worn that much (wool doesn't look good at all when you live in the Middle East!), so they're 20+ yrs old but in great shape...I can never make the same thing twice, hence the mis-match.

Do you love the bedspread pictured above?  It's a print from India.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just for fun! A super-cool McCall's pattern from...

Post was a big food company, they made breakfast cereal before being bought out by an even bigger food company.  I wonder if my mom saved cereal box coupons to get this, or did it come in the cereal box?  But it's the correct size, so perhaps she sent away for it. I don't remember if she made a dress from this pattern?  (I'll ask.)  Or was it for me or my sister?  The pattern has been cut.  

Anyway, I was going thru patterns last night (& I now have all my mom's old ones), and thought this was a fun one to share.  I actually may think about making it--but I am not sure--it looks like it could be for women less curvy than I am...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weavings at work?!

As I mentioned before, we didn't take enough photos of weavers working when we were in South America & Central America.  However, here's a nice one of a woman in Guatemala using a backstrap loom.  And check out her huipile, the top she has on.  She's probably weaving another; I'm sure I asked, but do not remember.  

Anyway, because I didn't take enough pictures for the "Weavers at Work" series, I'll post a few that I call "Weavings at Work," people wearing amazing woven clothes while going about their business...

Don't worry, we do have others of Weavers at Work, but you'll have to wait until we get to the Oman, Asia & Africa photos...

The second photo is a huipile shop in Antigua, Guatemala.  We saw an awful lot of beautiful, high-quality huipiles for sale in the big market towns (Antigua, Chichicastenango, etc.), and it rather boggled my mind; I mean there are only about 14 million people there; it felt like each of them was trying to sell 3-4 huipiles!

Finally, the women in the third photo are a the market in Nebaj, and are wearing typical northern Guatemala dress.  (It's pretty easy to tell where women--and sometimes men--are from, if they're wearing their traditional dress.)  Can you see the woman on the right?!  In her hair is braided this amazing ribbon, which is woven & embroidered.  We have such a "ribbon" but it's only 6' long--we saw some that were 12'.  This is the problem w/ traveling while poor--I could have easily bought 10 of them, but instead had to make a choice!  We did buy 7 huipiles, though!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

By Jove, I think I've got it! Well, half...

Finally...I think this may be it.  See what you think.  I don't know how many time I've re-done the darts, but it sure looks like it's just about right now.  Some way or another when I was taking up the pattern, I ended up w/ too much at the shoulder seam, and not quite enough at the side seam.  But that's easily fixed.

I've cut out the back now & marked the darts.  But when I sewed up the first little waist dart, I didn't do it right; that's usually how I know I need a break, or am too tired to continue.  Generally I find if I just keep going I end up making all sorts of mistakes & the next time I sit down to work the first 30 minutes or so are un-sewing.  So I took the hint from that messed-up dart & went downstairs to deal w/ the laundry & to finish up a fruit salad the Roommate had started.
Back - needs work
Back - uh oh
With any luck I'll get the top finished tomorrow evening (when the Roommate is at a class).  I've decided rather than sew up the side seams for the fitting (this is a muslin, remember), I'll sew up the back seam & leave one side seam undone.  This way I can pin it on myself.  The Roommate is good & patient with these things but I'd rather be able to do it myself, if necessary...

Back - not quite there yet
Update...well, maybe not quite.  The back wasn't quick either.  I had even taken out a bit from the center of the pattern (with a fold, like I did on both sides of the front), but that wasn't nearly enough, obviously. And the darts don't sit right at all; almost as if I've got a bust at the back, too! They are also not quite at the waist.  Onward!  But I'm going away for the weekend so it will have to wait 'til the holiday weekend (11/11) for more work.

Here's a hint where we're headed this weekend!  We'll be waking up in the City that never sleeps...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Those Darned Darts! or The Saga Continues

This looks to be a never-ending project!  Hope you're either a) learning something or b) amused by all this.

So where am I now?  I used the original pattern & drew the darts onto my now new piece of muslin (it's that special kind of red & white muslin!), pinned the darts, put it on Helen.  It looked okay, so I sewed up the darts; and re-fitted it to Helen & it didn't look so good...

I took out the darts & tried again--essentially I moved them out about 1/2".  Pinned, put on Helen.  Looked okay. Sewed them up, put on Helen--did NOT look okay.

If you're wondering what that white triangle is in the photo, it's a dart that I just keep moving around to trace onto the pattern.  I figure it's a normal size person bust-dart, so once I get the angle correct it will be the right size & shape.  It probably doesn't show in the photo too well, but I just pinned the neck & the side seams to the dressmaker's friend and marked the fullest part of the bust.  Then I laid my paper dart and pointed that right at the fullest part.  Then I drew on the darts.  I will sew them up later; I have to go pick up the car which is getting new tires for the (supposedly bitter) winter that's got started last weekend.


I think I've adjusted & re-adjusted about 8 times now!  I do feel I'm getting close.  I finally put in the waist darts, trying to make them a bit wider so they made the waist fit better.  Then I went back to the upper darts, trying to get them the right width at the side seams & at the right angle.

I'm really hoping this pays off in me being able to use it over & over...if not, I'll be pretty upset to put in all this work!  Or maybe it's character building?!

I didn't need to gain respect for pattern designers, but boy, is this difficult.  I'll have to pay more attention at they gym when I watch snippets of Fashion Project Runway.  I have to go to work tomorrow, & we're going to NYC this weekend, so I was hoping to get it done today...not sure whether I'll get back to it before next week.  But at least I feel like I might actually figure it out at this point.