Sunday, March 25, 2007

McCall's 4872 - One for the win column!

Yesterday, I spent the day sewing up McCall's 4872.

This was my first attempt at making a garment using knit fabric, and I'm very pleased with the results.

For this first try, I worked up a muslin using a cheap ($1/yard) knit from WalMart. I think it might be classified as a jersey knit, but I'm not 100% positive about that. The most noticable attribute of this fabric is that it is very thin. Too thin to wear actually. My own attributes don't need that much daylight ;)

I made up view B with just a few changes.

First, I shortened it quite a few inches - maybe 5 or 6. Also, instead of making my normal big arms alteration, I used the XL sleeve on the L bodice. The shirt fit perfectly after these little changes.

I tried making a neck band with the same fabric, and I think it would have worked, except for the part about sewing in on the wrong side. Oooops! I save it by rolling it inside and topstitching it down.

I used my serger for most of the construction including serging the sleeve and shirt hems, turning them under, and topstitching them down. I did a fake coverstitch on the sleeves by running two rows of topstitches with my regular sewing machine (I would have used a double needle instead, but don't have one of those for knits).

(Sidebar explanations for my non-sewing, or beginner friends)

For the longeset time, I didn't know what a coverstitch was. In case you're curious, I'll tell ya. First find a t-shirt. Look at the hem of the shirt or the sleeves. Chances are, you'll see two rows of stitching on the outstide, and squiggly threads on the inside. That's coverstitching. It takes a special machine, or a serger with a coverstitch option, to make those.

So what's a serger? It's a special kind of sewing machine that overlocks and trims the seams at the same time. They've got an OK definition of it at Take a look at the side seams on almost any average piece of purchased clothing, a.k.a RTW - Ready-To-Wear, and they will be serged.

(End of Sidebar)

Lastly, I deviated from the instructions by using a technique called "sewing it in flat" to put the sleeves in. Instead of sewing the sleeve seam together first (making a tube out of it), and then sewing the sleeve to the bodice, you sew the sleeve cap (top) to the bodice and leave the sleeve seam unsewn. Then you treat the bodice and sleeve seams as one and sew them at the same time.

I really, really like this method of attaching a sleeve. My seam intersections come out so much better this way.

Like I said, this try is a muslin. I'm waiting on some fabric to be delivered to make up the "real thing".

In the meantime, I'm getting View D of Simplicity 4076 ready for a muslin workup.

Whew! Busy weekend, but I had a blast!

New Play Pretties

During the past week I've picked up a few new play pretties:
I don't normally buy a lot of patterns at once. But, Joann's was having a $1.99 sale on McCall's, so I ended up with a couple more than I intended.

The Simplicity 4076 is intended to be used with the paisley knit I picked up from EmmaOneSock.
I've not worked with knit before though, so I wanted something simple to start with. I wanted Kwik Sew 3338, but couldn't pick that up locally.

I thought McCall's 5105 would do the trick, but it's not as basic as I thought it was. I settled on McCall's 4872 as my starting pattern, and I think that was a good choice (more on that later).

The Simplicity 4223 is intended for my DD. I've been looking for a style like this in a child's version, but can't find any that are in print. I want to use some pink flower brocade I picked up a while back that's too girly for me, but perfect for her.

McCall's 4922 has been on my wishlist for a while. I've drooled a bit over the versions that folks have made and reviewed on PatternReview.

Lastly there's McCall's 2094. It's not specifically on my wishlist but the style does suit me and I've been wanting to pick up something like it.

Here is my other new play pretty for the week. It is a roll of "Sewing" fabric from Carriff. (I just want to know who in the world thought of using soil separator fabric for tracing patterns and stabilizing fabric).

As you can see, it's quite thin. Very easy to see through for tracing.

One word of caution though. This stuff is porous with capital "P". Everything goes through it. Even pencil. I like it though. I used it this weekend and it seems to be a good alternative to the other tracing materials I've used.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Vogue 8332 is percoluating

I can't seem to get this project out of my head - it keeps making that blurp blurp blurp sound in the back of my mind.

I keep reflecting on what I could do differently to make this project a success. One thing I'm definitely going to do - and sooner rather than later - is get my DMIL's input on my collar problem. That's the one thing I haven't been able to think my way around yet.

And dang me for being a stubborn headed mule about getting help from others anyway - I tend to be so terribly bent on doing it all myself - silly me.

I have a sneaky suspicion that this guy will be resurfacing far sooner than I thought.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Making Bias Tape

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was making miles and miles of bias tape, and that my bias tape maker wasn't working out as well as I would have liked.

I didn't get through my jacket project, but I did get through the bias tape making part of it.

I did try out the tip on PatternReview and had better luck with it, but still couldn't get it quite right. The fabric still wanted to twist around occasionally.

I solved the problem by using both. I ran the fabric through the bias tape maker, then held it up close to the pin. Here - a picture or three will help I think.

Using both the pin and the bias tape maker worked pretty well for the fabric I was using. At least, I'm assuming I had trouble because of the fabric and not because of me. It seems like I would not have had as hard a time with a thicker, more firm fabric.

We'll see. I've definitely put the making and applying of bias tape on my list of things to accomplish well.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Forgot a rule...

#5 Don't buy new tops
This is more of a goal than a rule. I really like the idea of being able to pick my choice of fabric and styles, so I've held off buying myself new tops as an incentive to make them. Two tops out of my staple wardrobe are things I've made myself and I'm pretty happy about that. Slacks will hopefully come later.

Sewing Rules...

I've noticed in reading forum posts and people's blogs that sewists out there seem to have "rules" that they follow in their sewing. So I thought I would explore my own rules, and how important they are to me.

Janimé's Rules for Sewing:

#1 Keep a small stash
Given adequate space and $s, this one would go by the wayside. But, I don't have a lot of space to work with. And I don't have a big budget either. It would be so, so easy to just go crazy over beautiful fabric and never get around to using it.

Been there, done that. I have some crochet thread that's been around for 15 to 20 years. I thought about ditching that stuff in favor of fabric until I read that crochet thread could be used in the serger.

But this rule, and others, helps me ensure that I spend my money wisely and actually get wearable garments out of the deal.

Current stash yardage? Approximately 35 yards.

#2 No UFOs
I have enough of these from other craft endeavors. But it also goes with the first rule. Part of what I want to accomplish is to have stuff I can wear. You can't really wear UFOs.

Current UFO count? Two. Sort of. Both are jackets that I made up muslins for and neither worked out on the first attempt. I want to work on the basics more before I tackle either pattern again.

#3 Must have patterns for fabric and vice versa
Seeing a trend here? I neither want patterns nor fabric hanging around waiting for inspiration from me. That doesn't mean I won't ever get one without the other. But so far, I've pretty much had something definite in mind when purchasing either.

#4 One project at a time
This is one way in which I keep myself from having UFOs hanging about. But it's not a strict rule. There is value in thinking ahead to the next project (or projects) and having a few items in the pipepline. My sewing time is limited though and I don't want to lose focus by trying to bounce between too many things.

I have helped myself out by putting a project plan together that holds my current and future projects. (I'm using Microsoft Project for that). This is probably overkill for most people, but it helps me stay very focused on what steps I need to take next, while allowing me the flexibility to get future projects lined up.

So what are your favorite sewing rules?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Vogue 8332 - UNCLE!!!


This project has really whipped my hiney and I hereby throw in the towel. For now anyway.

It comes down to a simple matter of not having enough experience yet. I just don't have the skills needed to properly work on a jacket like this.

I spent a fair amount of time this past week, and pretty much the entire weekend working - patiently btw - and overcame a number of obstacles. But it wasn't enough.

First there was the infamous bias tape. Experiment #3 worked out quite well though. Using a mock flat-felled seam instead of bias tape was definitely a winner.

After figuring out how to do the seams, the rest of the reverse side went together just fine.

Then I went to work on attaching the front and hem bands to the reverse side. Hit a tempory snag in that the bands are also supposed to get the bias tape treatment. I figured out a way to get around that, and so moved forward.

Once the front and hem bands were put on, it was time to attach the front piece to the reverse piece. It all went together easily enough, but the reverse side fabric stretched out on me a bit during construction, so it hung rather loosely.

The area around the armscye was definitely going to give me difficulty. But, since I was planning on using a much more firm fabric for the reverse side, I figured this wouldn't be too much of an obstacle with the real thing.

Next it was time to attach the collar. Here is were I met my final match. I followed the instructions as best I could and well, I don't think I quite got the idea and the results showed it. The main problem were the bits at the end. The front and the collar were supposed to come together somehow so that raw edges didn't show (naturally) and I just could not get it to work.

That was pretty much the last straw. That and the fact that when I tried it on, the armscyes were definitely going to be too small. I expected the sleeves to be somewhat snug because they were in the pin fit, but I didn't expect to have problems with the armscyes.

So, enough is enough. It's time to take a few steps back and move forward at a slower pace. I'm planning on working on a couple of knit tops next. I think those will be "easy wins".

After that, I'll start thinking about how I can take smaller steps to get to the level I need to be at to tackle a project like this.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Experiments 1 & 2

Well, experiments 1 and 2 for Vogue 8332 are a no go. But I started on experiment #3 and it holds some promise.

Experiment #1: Make and use bias strips from the "real" fabric.

At first this seemed to be going well. The "real" fabric is more firm than the fabric I'm using for the muslin, so the tape making part of the exercise went fairly well. However, it is also thicker, and therefore bulkier. That snagged me up. I could not get the tape to fold properly over the seam. So at the very least, I'm ditching the idea of using the bias tape.

Experiment #2: Keeping the seam allowances to the outside and fraying them.

I've seen this work before, so I played with it a bit on one seam. But the look just wasn't right so I've abandoned that idea too.

Experiment #3 will be using a mock flat-felled seam. I've got it started and will hopefully be able to finish it up tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Addendum to yesterday's post on Vogue 8332

Now that I've slept on my thoughts around discontinuing Vogue 8332, I've added some possible things to try that might make it better. Most notably, I want to investigate using other seam finishing methods, like the flat-felled or mock flat-felled, and see if those would be easier to work with than the bias binding.

I think I would be OK with either of those. I'm not wed to the use of the bias binding - only to the general look of having the seam finshing on the outside instead of the inside.

This is a completely crazy and possibly stupid thought, but what if instead of finishing the seams, I leave them unfinshed and fray them completely? It's worth trying as an experiment anyway. Heck, what are muslins for if we can't experiment on them! :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

To Vogue 8332 or not to Vogue 8332...

I worked on my Vogue 8332 jacket more this weekend, and I'm beginning to have serious doubts about this project.

Where to begin with my woes?

I have a really pretty brocade (pic was in an earlier post) that I want to use for the reverse side of this jacket. That brocade IS the reason I picked this pattern out. I really liked the notion of matching up the brocade with the bias bound seams to get something beyond the ordinary.

However, my muslin is telling me that I should rethink my choices. The fabric that I'm using for the reverse side muslin is a fairly thin and slippery brocade. It ravels fairly easily, but most especially where the brocade pattern forms. This fabric caused some problems during the bias tape making effort. The brocade pattern areas stretched out badly in some cases, making the tape thinner than I need it to be.

Match the uneven bias tape up with my not-so-perfect sewing lines AND the fact that there is topstitching visable, and you have a mess in the making. I didn't realize, btw, that there was topstitching until I actually started on the reverse side of the muslin. That would be my inexperience showing. Someone with more experience would probably have taken one look at it and known that some stitching would be visible.

In the meantime, I've got some other projects screaming to be done in time to wear during the spring and summer.

So what is my plan?

I'm going to "sacrifice" some of my pretty brocade to some experimentation.

I'm going to make a few test strips to see how the brocade will handle when using it for bias tape.

If the "real" fabric works better than my muslin fabric, I'll keep moving forward. I think I can get around the topstitching concern by using clear thread. I don't really want the topstitching to show anyway as I think it would detract from the look of the jacket in this case.

If it's even close to as bad as my muslin fabric to work with though, I'm going to ditch this project and move on. As much as I don't like having a big stash, and as much as I don't really want to just give up, this fabric should not be wasted on something I can't do right.


In the meantime, I purchased this loverly fabric from EmmaOneSock. I've not worked with knit fabric yet. But I've heard it's not too difficult, and I've picked a very simple pattern to start with.

Should my jacket project go south, I'm hoping a nice knit blouse will give me an easy win. At this point, I think I may need one.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I'm such a geek...

I'm such a geek. I woke up somewhere between 2:30 and 3:00 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I didn't want to wake the house up with the sounds of sewing, so I hit the computer.

As I was sitting here, I started thinking about all the sewing projects I want to do in the next few months. And what did I do? I whipped out my handy-dandy MS Project and started scheduling out what I want to do when.

Actually, I think this may turn out to be helpful. I pay attention and get things done much more quickly if I have a plan written down and have deadlines (even if they are only self-imposed deadlines). And having everything down in MS Project will let me see how inserted and removed projects effect my overall timeline.

Gah... sometimes I kill me.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Vogue 8332 - Slow going

I've made virutally no progress this week on my Vogue jacket. I'm to the point on the muslin where I need to press out miles and miles of bias binding, and I haven't much felt like tackling it. I think I have maybe 1/2 a yard done.

I did go to Joann's Monday after work to buy a bias tape maker. I tried it out Monday evening and I gotta say I didn't like it too well. The tape maker didn't seem to hold the fabric tight enough so I was having a good bit of trouble keeping the sides folded over. I even had the tip of the iron right up against the edge of the tape maker and it didn't really help.

I did find a tip on PatternReview that I want to try out this weekend. I sure hope it works out. I'll post my results :)

I've got to get a move on this project. I've been hankering to try my hand at making some things with knit fabrics, but I refuse to leave this project hanging out as a UFO.