Thursday, 31 October 2013

October Wrap-Up

I made four garments this month. They're all teddy bear sized, but skirt is a skirt, no matter how big or small! I'm proud of my work in the sewing cave this month. Did I complete all my goals? No. But I did learn a lot along the way.

I did the Understanding Interfacings class, and I completed both sample projects. I also took the Underlining class, and again completed both sample projects. While my daughter's teddy bear is now the best dressed on the block, my skills have definitely improved and I'm sure the garments on my to-do list will benefit.

I know October has come to an end, and I have not yet completed my October garment for SarahLiz's Make a Garment a Month Challenge but it is definitely looking like a skirt. I have chosen a dark brown stretch linen from stash, but had to purchase a stretch cotton for the underlining fabric. I'm using my Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit with the pencil skirt downloadable instructions. As you can see, I'm half way through the basting process.
Hopefully I can get stuck in tonight and finish in time for Sarah's October wrap-up.
It's been a busy month in our house (Aren't they all?) so I haven't had a chance to politely ask my husband to take photos of me wearing my September tops. Maybe I'll get to share them next month.

Sewing Class Review - The Technique of Underlining Garments

Time for more learning. I have done several of Sarah Veblen's Pattern Review classes and I believe my sewing has markedly improved. This class has been on my wish list for a while now, so I enrolled as soon as it became available. This is another class which has a kit. This time it includes 2 hand sewing needles and some lovely Japanese silk basting thread, and small scale patterns to make a little skirt from wool underlined with silk organza, and a blouse from silk charmeuse underlined with silk georgette.

The class is delivered by pdf lessons, 2 class chats with Sarah Veblen, and the class message board. There are no video lessons with this class. As usual, Sarah's notes are clear and well written, with plenty of information including pictures. There is a lot of information on fabrics - how to choose an appropriate underlining fabric for your fashion fabric with lots of combinations she herself regularly uses. She also discusses preparing the fabrics (pre-shrinking etc) and garment care.

If you've done any of her classes, you'll know that Sarah is very meticulous and methodical. She talks about the "process" of making a garment, and looking at it that way had helped me be less impatient and to spend the time to be accurate and get the best results I can, rather than cutting corners and omitting steps.

I made the effort to make both sample projects in this class. I haven't worked with these fabrics in real garments (I did make the wool bodice in the interfacings class) so I was learning how these fabrics behave as well as about underlining.

The wool skirt underlined with silk organza was the best one to begin with. These fabrics are much easier to control, both on their own and together. Her tip in the construction instructions to baste around the dart sections made sewing the darts a dream. They came together beautifully, and the silk thread just slips out when you're done (unless you, ahem, catch a little bit in the dart - which I did when sewing the bodice). I even installed a zipper. My zipper technique is rather dodgy, so I need to practise, and this was a good opportunity because the result really didn't matter.

I created a facing pattern from the skirt pattern and interfaced it. As you can see, I didn't bother to finish the edges on this garment. I didn't do it for the silks, either, and they frayed quite a bit - info to store for when I make a "real" garment.  The hem is done by hand with a catch stitch. I love my blind hemming foot, but I've got to admit, a catch stitch onto the underlining fabric only gives a very nice clean look on the fashion side.

I think Bella looks quite fetching in her new skirt!

The blouse was much tricker to make. These silks are much less obedient! Both silks easily moved out of shape, the georgette most of all. It was a challenge lining them up and pinning to baste, and even basting took longer. Because the fabrics are so light and fluid, my basting stitches were not as even.

Sewing the darts was a learning experience too - slippery fabric!  The trickiest part was setting in the underlined sleeves. I got a few puckers on the fashion side which weren't in the underlining fabric. Sarah suggested I do an extra basting line in the other side of the seam line next time to stabilize that area - like basting around the darts.
I decided to take the opportunity to practise sewing bias binding on the jewel neckline. My stitching in the ditch is rather wobbly. My edge foot tends to dig in to the fabric and get caught, so I just eyeball it with the regular foot. I'm getting better at this, unless, like this time, I get impatient to finish and speed up!

Bella is quite pleased with her silk blouse. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Adding to the Empire

There's nothing like a deadline to get some action in the sewing cave! We recently had a family holiday on the Gold Coast and I had nothing to wear. After my success with my empire line pattern I knew I could  quickly run up another dress and know it would fit. I've had this fabric in my stash for about a year. It's a printed viscose/spandex knit from Knitwit called "Padua".  I'm still a little bit unsure of prints and which styles and scale of prints really suit me, but since I had my personal colour analysis earlier this year, I knew the colours in this fabric were spot on.

The only change I made to this version is the sleeve. I used the regular knit short sleeve this time. Cutting out took much longer than I expected. The printed stripes are not totally straight and even, so graining up took me ages. I thought the stripes would help! After I got over the fact that perfect stripe matching wasn't going to happen, the rest was a very pleasant afternoon in my sewing cave. I finished the neckline with a self fabric binding using a technique I learned in a recent Craftsy class - Sewing on the Edge. (I probably should review this class soon as I really loved this class.)

I love everything about this dress. The fabric feels lovely on. It's soft and fine, and will be very comfortable over the summer. I also love the print, which is a pleasant surprise! The fit is perfect - thank you Sure-Fit Designs!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Sewing Class Review - Understanding Interfacings

Does anyone else wonder if there's a better way? If there's a better interfacing to use instead of the one you have in your stash? Do you get overwhelmed at the fabric store and don't know what's what? I do.
I've been waiting for this class to reappear on Pattern Review. Sarah Veblen is a fantastic teacher and her courses are very well thought out and give heaps of technical information.
Sarah's courses are usually run with a kit. This interfacing kit was quite a revelation to me! It includes 22 large samples of interfacings from fusible to sew-in, light to heavy, drapey to quite stiff. There is also a length of crepe de chine and one of medium weight wool, with sufficient interfacings for two small scale bodices.
The course has a few videos, but is primarily delivered in PDF format. There's also the class discussion board, and 2 chat sessions. In the course notes each interfacing is described in detail. She gives information on manufacturers, fibre content and construction, available colours, laundering tips, suggested fabrics and uses.
I also learned about hand basting. I have never hand basted an interfacing before. Is that bad?? Should I admit this in public? The woven interfacings I have used have always been machine stitched on to the facing. I think I might be persuaded to hand baste in the future.

The real learning began with sewing the bodices. The interfacings included are a soft fusible knit and a stiff woven sew-in. Sarah suggests you use one on each side of each bodice front so you can see for yourself the difference they make.

I'd never sewn with silk crepe de chine before, and have been mainly sewing with knits for years, so this was an adventure in itself. This bodice taught me that a soft, light interfacing can be perfect to give just enough support and shape without being obvious. The side with the stiff woven was just wrong. It was pulling the bodice down because it was so heavy in comparison.

In yet another first, here's my wool bodice! What a difference. The stiff woven interfacing was just right for this garment. If I saw this product in the shop, I would have thought it was too stiff, but with this fabric, it worked really well. The bodice is supported at the front and back neck. The side with the softer fusible interfacing is drooping, so it is not getting enough support. I learned something!!

For me, this course was fabulous. I went to my two local chain stores and checked out their interfacing stocks with a more educated eye. My local Spotlight had a better and more varied selection than Lincraft. I also now know that there's much, much more available, so I don't have to settle for an almost right. I can look further afield, knowing what to search for.

With the kits, these classes are not cheap. However, the kits are such a valuable resource to keep and to refer to again and again. I thoroughly enjoyed this class and am looking forward to her Underlining class which begins tomorrow.