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Archive for February, 2010

I did a little research on my sewing problem, utilizing a gift from my mom, in the form of Nancy Zieman’s book Fitting Finesse, to find out why everything seemed to come out too big, regardless of whether I measured for my size, or how exactly I matched the stated size on the pattern. It turns out that because my bust is larger than what most pattern makers design for by using my bust as the guiding measurement makes everything else too big, hence the too large dress (though 10″ of ease is QUITE large), the too large blouse I’m making, the too large everything. She suggests going by the “front width” measurement but if I go by that I am less than a size 6. Hm.

The thing with vintage patterns, though, is that I’ve made them and they’re not as far off. The little jacket I made fit perfectly. The dress that I made needed only to deepen the darts at the back. So now I just have to learn how to alter patterns because it will be a requirement in anything I make. I’m looking forward to it! At present, though, I have about 6 patterns that may or may not fit me (especially a jacket pattern with no back darts) and I want to be sure they’re right before I cut into fabric.

To that end, I and two friends I’ve met through the LFGSS are going around London visiting fabric shops today, one in Lewisham and one near Hackney. A stopover at one of their friend’s places, in the first part of the day, will allow me to talk to someone about pattern altering and perhaps see if I can pay her to alter mine so I can have something to do until I can find a class. Or maybe I can pay her to let me come over and have her teach me. Then in about a week and a half we’ll end up over at one of their houses, up to the craft room (!!) to work on our various projects all day, punctuated by cocktails and homemade pizza.

Last night was one of those horrible sleep nights where you’re waking up every hour. It’s gonna be a two-cup a’ coffee kinda day.

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I think rhubarb is mostly seen as a sour, strange thing in the States, though that may just be my Southernness, as it doesn’t grow down there. I personally love tangy rhubarb pie and sweet delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie (and jam!). Since coming to London, I have noticed the British predilection for rhubarb; it’s sold at every place that sells fruit & veg, around this time, and every major brand of yogurt makes a variant (even Activia!). I am in LOVE with rhubarb yogurt! A while back I bought a yogurt machine but it just ended up being a bit more work than I had anticipated and you can’t re-use any of the pots you make to start more than the very next batch, or at least so I remember. I am up for the challenge of making yogurt again, but I need to buy a strainer. I think that’s what was the problem with my last attempt; it was so wet it hardly resembled yogurt, especially when I’d been eating thick-as Greek yogurt.

I also really want to can things. When I tell young British people they should can something, they look at me like they’re waiting for me to finish the sentence. It’s then I realize that I haven’t seen canning jars in the £ stores. Or anywhere else. And I think, “But this is England! Everyone prides themselves on their can-do, old school DIY, make-do attitude!” But it doesn’t seem like they can here the way we do in the States. So I’m not sure how I’ll can anything, especially since my main goal was to can tomatoes, and I’m pretty sure you can’t can tomatoes via the hot water method. Something about the acids, but I don’t quite know what. I am sure, however, that people make jam, so I wonder how they can it? I mean, do you have to close it up a different way than you close up canned veggies or soups or whatever?

£ stores, that reminds me of another story. Last night at South Drinks, a friend was saying her boyfriend wants a dog and she wants a cat. She’d told him they could get a dog only if they moved to a bigger place. I said, “Make sure you get a pound dog.” The two Brits stopped and sort of looked confused, so I said, “Wait, what do you call the RSPCA?” “For what, dogs? Cats? You just say “Battersea” (after the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home).” “Right, because we have £ stores. That would be a cheap dog!”

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So there, Meg C. at McCall Customer not-Service:

Patt-O-Rama mail order pattern, probably mid-50s. Size 14, measurements of 34-26-36, View 2.

An example of the instructions (whoa!):

Please let me insist that you read instructions all the way through before beginning a pattern. It will allow you to, for instance, a) not cut the interfacing all the way through when they only wanted you to slash to the large dots, and b) cut the interfacing and the back waist piece at the same time, as the pattern wants, instead of cutting both pieces at different times, not quite cutting them in the same places, and having to running stitch together the two pieces of the interfacing.

Also please, if you realize that you don’t have enough fabric to make both pieces of interfacing and decide you’re going to stitch together two pieces to be the front neck facing? Please make sure both pieces are either wrong side out or right side out before cutting.

Lookit that understitching!

Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny neckline!

Sharp as a knife.

Can you spot the blue dots here? This pattern was very interesting, it was already cut and the markings were made as little dots in the paper. They want you to mark on one side, poke a pin through and mark on the other side. I suspect that my marking was not perfect and when I make the next blouse in this pattern I will just use tracing paper and my tracing wheel (which I’m much more pleased with than the pointy kind, though at first I thought I wouldn’t like it as much, because it does not rip the pattern as easily as the pointy kind).

Edit: Double-plus important to read the instructions all the way through – those blue dots aren’t markings, they’re just on the pattern piece to tell me whether to cut on the fold, on the bias, or with the grain. *facepalm*

As I do not have any fabric I can use to make the band at the bottom of the blouse, nor zippers (5″ at back of neck, 9″ at right side), I will have to wait to finish it. Actually, I also just realized that it doesn’t tell you anywhere how to finish the armholes. Hmm…

The workspace (ie, the kitchen):

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My first email:
I just finished pattern m5785 and am thoroughly disappointed. By your measurement guide, I should be a size 12 (I’m 34-26-36) but decided to make the size 10 b/c I did not think the measurements made sense. I was right but as it turns out I actually should have made it in size 8. How awful! I do not have a lot of money and all I can say is that I wasted the money on the pattern (can’t re-cut it at size 8 ) and I’m also out on the cost of fabric! This dress is so large that it looks ridiculous on me and cannot even be worn as pajamas b/c the shoulders fall off of mine. The only thing I can say in favor of this pattern is that it taught me some new skills and was indeed quite easy to follow. I would really like a credit so I can get another pattern in the same range so that I may make it TWO SIZES BELOW SUGGESTED (sorry but there are no italics available) and actually have something to wear. I’m out about $20 here.

Thank you,
Annoyed Customer

Hi.
Thank you for your email concerning McCall Pattern 5785. Whenever possible we try to provide our home sewers with the information they request. I ca understand your frustration with the fit of your garment. Patterns are sized according to your real body measurements, not like ready to wear. Which is why the sizing seemed ‘off’ to you. Also, misses patterns are sized for a B cup figure, if you are an A cup than you would either need to adjust the tissue, or in this case as there are no darts, you probably could size down, and maybe adjust other areas if needed.
On McCall Patterns, at the lower portion of the envelope, you will find the finished measurements. You can see there that there is about 10” of ease included in this garment. Because fit is a personal thing; you may not prefer that much ease in this particular style, although that was the intention of the designer. This is a very loose fitting dress. So in that respect, you would need to adjust the pattern to eliminate the extra ease, or, you could again, choose to size down to eliminate the ease, keeping in mind you may need to adjust other areas for a perfect fit. But this is called sewing. The pattern is not specific to each individual, it is a standard pattern for each size, and the individual has to tweak it for their specific body type.
Now, we don’t offer pattern credits unless an error is found in the pattern. There are no errors in this pattern; however, this appears to be your first experience sewing or working with choosing sizes, I’ll have another pattern sent to you, so that you can try again. It is a cute dress. Please email your mailing address and the size you need.

Cordially,
Meg C.
Consumer Services

My response:
Well, I am a lower-intermediate sewer. But I do know how to measure myself and I do know how to look for the measurements on a pattern. The pattern suggests that I should be a size 12. Looking at the finished measurements of the dress provided by the pattern, that seemed too big, so I made a size 10. It is clearly too large, in every way. I expected it to be a “sack” dress, but not so large that it is falling off of my shoulders. I understand that pattern sizes are larger than ready to wear, in RTW I am a size 4. However, I go by bust, waist and hip measurements when making a pattern. But I am a D cup, so that was not the issue here. This pattern actually does have darts, they are in the lining, not the outside of the dress. It was quite an elegant little pattern, I enjoyed learning the new techniques it taught me, but as I said, I was quite upset that the suggested size based on my measurements is so far off. How would I guess that I should pick the one that says bust 30 when I am a 34?

I thank you for sending another pattern, I suppose I would like the 8. I can’t see whether it comes in, for instance, a 4-6-8 so I can decide whether I should make it smaller than 8.

Best,
Not-Yet Mollified Customer

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Oh, Painting.

Dulux brand matt color “Blue Reflection” (a lovely deep robin or duck egg blue) for main walls, some chintzy-sounding name of pale cream for the slanted wall and the roof. Yesterday was Clean Vaseline Off Baseboards Day and today is Sand Spackle And Paint Walls While Drinking Red Wine Day. Whoa. It’s amazing how easy it is to tell, when walls are white, that the person who lived in the room before you smoked, once the posters are off the wall and you see the clean rectangles left behind.

Spackle is a pain in the butt if you put it on too heavily. Even heavy grit sandpaper, as wielded by mere human hands, hardly makes a dent in it. But it will make use of hands, shoulders and arms that haven’t had much asked of them lately.

Alright, time to get back to it. Photos later.

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Awwww, Man!

Does anyone reading this besides G sew? What is your experience with completing commercial patterns? This one told me I should be a size 12, but seeing the dimensions for the finished dress, I decided to make it in a size 10.

Apparently I’m a size 8. Since I neglected to pre-wash in a hot wash, I’m going to first try shrinking it, then selling it or giving it away. The way it had me do the armholes was pretty cool! I can’t explain it, but it was really interesting. So at least I learned a new method for that. Next up is whichever vintage pattern I decide on, probably the one I decided went best with the cool fabric from Liberty.

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Three items arrived in the mail for me today! How exciting! I hardly ever get mail so it’s always a happy day when something bearing my name, other than a bill, drops through the letter slot. I received a glorious length of Liberty lawn fabric (quite thin, and $30(!!!) with the exchange rate, I’ll have to wear a crinoline and probably a camisole to “preserve modesty”), a pattern for a short-skirted dress from 1968, and this 40s Czech bead necklace with beautiful red translucent beads.

The pattern looks mildly complicated, but then I’m not 100% able to finish a commercial pattern without help yet, so any of them will be mildly complicated. In a few weeks, a sewing class opens up in my neighborhood, for £35 I can go in once a week for five weeks and get help on what I’m making. I’m not sure that’s worth it for me, yet.

Last night I got stuck on the pattern I’m making now, the white and yellow capped-sleeve version at the left. I couldn’t figure out what understitching meant and the glossary was no help. My mom was able to explain it via IM; free tech support is always better than paid tech support. The pattern has no buttons, no zippers, and is definitely a good place to start; it has already taught me how to understitch and a new technique for joining at the shoulders. I’m also pleased that even with all the mistakes I made and ripping out of stitches, I didn’t have a single hissy fit. Progress! It’s taken me two days already but I’m pretty sure I’ll have it done by today, at least I hope I will. Blech, it’s 1:30 p.m., I’d better get working on it!

In the coming days several more patterns will arrive but I will have to prioritize or I’ll overwhelm myself like when I ordered 10,000 patterns while in Florida. At least now I can make it all at my own pace.

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