Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on a McCall’s pattern for a scooter skirt from 1969. I bought it thinking it’d be perfect for bike riding, then when I opened it and saw there were only five pieces and five steps I thought it would be a piece of cake! I’d had this gorgeous dark purple and blue 100% linen plaid material I got to make a dress/jacket combo. However, when I took the jacket pattern pieces out of the envelope, I panicked, and put the whole thing away. Then I found the scooter skirt pattern and knew it would be great in that plaid! It’s basically a pair of shorts with a flap at the front and at the back.

Because of interning it’s taken me two weeks to finish, but that’s another blog post. At some point I’m going to have to get off my duff (maybe when I’m drawing a paycheck) and sign up for some sort of intermediate level sewing class because there’s still tons I don’t know about sewing. The zipper nearly drove me bonkers and in the end I just sort of winged it, doing something between a lap zipper and an invisible zipper. At least I used the zipper foot. I had the problem with a sort of “dip” at the bottom of the zipper that I was warned about if I didn’t sew from the bottom up, but after two tutorials and two books, all of which told me different things, I was sick of it and just got it in however I could because I was afraid if I didn’t, I wouldn’t. It had been sitting there waiting to be put in for a week as it was.

Then, I couldn’t figure out how to do the bottom hems like the pattern wanted so I ended up just doing a double-fold seam so the linen wouldn’t fray. The machine’s manual gave me the hint to cut corners off at certain parts so there wouldn’t be too much bulk and I must say, I’m super happy with the result! I opted to slipstitch the rest of it b/c I didn’t know how to do an invisible stitch and couldn’t figure out if “blind stitch” was my English machine’s manual’s way of saying that.


To top it off, when I got to the snap at the waist band, the two ends didn’t meet up flush, and then I sewed the snap on the wrong side. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Oh well, this is one of those things where if I don’t tell people about it they won’t know it’s there. And of course, here I am, not only telling but showing. But I don’t know how the sides ended up not matching, so I’ll have to be more careful when I make them next time because THEY ARE AWESOME! I also plan on trying to make them not quite as wide through the legs, because as you can see, they appear to be at least an inch and a half wider on either side than the picture indicates. I don’t think I’ll adjust them quite that much, though.

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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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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

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.

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.

Not-Yet Mollified Customer

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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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Prego Pattern

This maternity bubble jumpsuit pattern is what I would call A Terrible Idea. I can’t find a photo of it and the auction is only up for the next five days (I’m really truly seriously tempted to buy it just so I can have the horror for my very own for as long as I want to look at it) but basically, if you read this after the auction is taken down and aren’t able to view it for yourself, the pattern is what you would go for if you wanted to make a pregnant woman look like a very fat three year old. It’s very nearly a pair of footy pajamas with the wide legs that taper at the ankle and box-like torso. Add on, in the case of the middle one, sleeves, and picture it in blue, and bang! Insta-Muppet! I wonder if I would be cool enough to wear the hot-pants length one should the boyfriend (I mean husband!) and I procreate.

The sewing machine has finally been taken to a shop, coincidentally one near O+K, which suits me, and I will pick it up this weekend and (praise be!) begin on some projects I’ve been wanting to make, and have recently ordered from eBay, like this lovely blouse pattern at the left. I can see myself making all three of the blouses but purchased it specifically for the bottom one. Now that I know I will most likely be working in an office, probably required to wear office-like clothes, I’d rather wear stuff like this, that I’ve made myself, than something I had to buy out of H&M or UNI QLO. I prefer this aesthetic anyway. I can get away with dresses at the office, right?

I’d also like to see if I can figure out how to make a pattern for the pair of pants pictured in the ad for the webcomic Humans and Other Myths. I haven’t read any of it, but it does look lovely. Found it on the sidebar of another webcomic I read, Penny and Aggie, an Archie-style comic that sometimes has a Christian bent to it that I ignore (much like I try to ignore the Christian bent I often see if Grey’s Anatomy). I don’t have the skillz of an artist needed to create patterns yet, but I’d like to take classes, so either a) someday, or b) I find someone to barter with. I’m betting on the latter.

Still have some time on the job thing, apparently. I’ll need to get an American-sized passport photo, print out bank statements, and am waiting for a letter from my recruiter touting my hireability. It’s a word, I swear it is.

P.S. It is apparently much harder than it seems to make a mochachino. Maybe that’s b/c I never remember to use espresso en vez de regular coffee. Bleh.

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