Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Simple Skirt

Since I am working on creating slopers for pattern-making, I have been sewing up simple basic pieces to test the slopers which actually are turning out to be quite versatile since I can combine them with many garments already in my wardrobe.  In this case, I had left over fabric from my white pants, enough to make a simple straight skirt.

Self drafted skirt.  The top is Vogue 1247 (out of print) in silk crepe de chine.
As with my pants, I decided not to add pockets so as to avoid them from showing through to the right side.  I also used the same waistband technique I used for my white pants where I cut the facing 1 1/2 inches wide, folded under 1/4 inch and topstitched.  This results in a clean waistband finish that looks like a countered waistband.  I think this will be my waistband technique go forward for white or light colored pants and skirts.  I inserted an invisible zipper at center back.



The beauty with pattern-making is that once you have a sloper that fits you, just about any pattern you draft from that sloper will fit nicely.  You only need to tweak the garment to account for fabric variables.


I used hem tape at the hem for a nice polished touch.  


I believe this ensemble is one of my most comfortable for those hot summer days.  

Happy sewing!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pant Leg Shape: Slim

Well, now that I have a pant pattern I am pleased with thanks to the Joyce Murphy pant block I wrote about in my last pant post,  I decided to start playing around with leg shapes.  I made a pair of white slim leg pants and overall I am happy with them.  It was more of an experiment but I ended up with a pair of wearable pants I like.

Slim leg pants drafted from pant block and self-drafted knit top

What I wanted was a pair of slim leg pants but not a jeans fit, not skin tight.  I have a pair of ready to wear pants that have a slim leg shape I really like so I measured along the knee and along the hem and compared those measurements to the pant block.  I subtracted to obtain the difference and divided by four.  I then reduced equally on each side of the leg.


I made these pants out of a white cotton sateen I purchased from Mood Fabrics.  The fabric has a little bit of stretch in them which, of course, affected the way the pants fit compared to the non-stretch woven pants I previously made.  Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn has said that each fabric is its own universe and that is most definitely true.

Below on the photo on the left you can see there are drag lines along the leg. Granted, I had been sitting all day in the office so maybe they stretched out a little but they nevertheless fit better than the ready-to-wear pants on the right which I have actually worn out in public!  I think I will tweak the back crotch length a little for my next pair to see what happens.

On the left, pants I made.  On the right, ready-to-wear pants
The fabric was tightly woven and opaque so I did not see a need to line them for modesty which also makes them a cooler garment to wear on a hot day.  Despite the fabric's opacity, if I were to make pockets or a fly front, you could still see the pocket bag and fly front facing through the fabric which I don't like.  I therefore decided to make them very clean and simple with no pockets and an invisible zipper on the side.  I could have made pockets in beige to avoid some of the see through, but I still believe you would be able to see the impression of the pockets which I also don't like!  So they are as simple as simple can be for a pair of pants.

For the waist treatment, I originally drafted a facing instead of a waistband.  However, I again did not like how you could see the facing on the right side.  Not only that, I had serged the raw edge of the facing and you could see a ridge from the serger stitches as well.  So I took inspiration from the ready-to-wear pants.  I cut the facing to a width of 1 1/2 inches, folded under 1/4 inch and topstitched.  The result is a clean waist finish that looks like a contoured waistband:



I am happy overall with these new summer pants.  Now I need to make more but the warm sunny days are calling me....

Happy sewing!

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

So Unruly

Recently, I went to visit a wonderful exhibit of American fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi's work, An Unruly History, at the Jewish Museum in New York City which is on view until August 7, 2016. This exhibit most certainly made me appreciate him as a designer as the depth of his work was quite impressive.

When you first enter the exhibit, you see a wall that looks like tiles or some type of mosaic but when you get closer, it is actually hundreds (thousands?) of swatches!



You then enter this room where you see beautiful colorful garments.  It is Isaac's mastery of color that I love the most.  The work in the exhibit is from the 1980's through current day.




--Isaac Mizrahi
How exciting it was to see hundreds of his sketches with his notes written on them!



You can see in Isaac's work how he absorbed all of the diverse cultures and religions one is inevitably exposed to living in New York City.  His design aesthetic was also influenced by nature, politics, music...basically, everything around him.

The peony is Isaac's favorite flower

Totem pole dress

Wooden bead jacket

Poppy flower.  The fabric of the dress in the background is hand painted.

Something I did not know about Isaac was his work designing puppets for children's plays.  It was so much fun to see the accompanying footage of the puppets in the productions.

Ostrich puppet

Owl puppet

Toward the end of the exhibit, there are also some short films of his early fashion shows where you see the great supermodels Linda Evangelista and Christy Burlington walking the catwalk in his designs.

If you are in New York City anytime between now and August 7, do try to visit this fabulous exhibit.   You will enjoy it!  The museum is located on 5th Avenue at 92nd Street.  Call them at 212-423-3337 for hours and entrance fees.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pants Fit - Part II

For me, by far the most perplexing garment to fit are pants.  They must fit up and down and around as all other garments but they must also have the correct crotch curve shape and length and fit around 3 "cylinders" (the torso and 2 legs).  The fit adjustments are oftentimes counterintuitive.

Over the years, I have taken online classes and attended every pant fitting class offered in the sewing expos I have attended.  Each class offered new insights as to why pants fit and don't fit.  The most beneficial class I have taken was a 3 day workshop offered by the NJ Chapter of the ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) taught by Karen Bengtson (member of the Colorado chapter).  You can read more about the process in my previous post.

The pants pattern was based on the methods and techniques developed by Joyce Murphy who also wrote an article in the December/January 2006 Issue 122 of Threads magazine entitled, "Adjusting Pants from Waist to Seat."  It was a fascinating article where she explained the concept of body spaces and how they relate to the crotch length and more importantly, how there are an infinite number of shapes of body spaces.  She also explained why the commonly recommended adjustments often don't work.

I am very happy with the result but I want to understand why they fit.  Below is my analysis.

Here are the Joyce Murphy pants, front view:


And most importantly for me, the back view.  There is a little bit of a wrinkling below my derriere on the left side due to my left hip being lower but it doesn't bother me:


Below are photos of a muslin based on a standard Big 4 pant pattern:
Big 4 pant pattern muslin - Front
I don't like how the front crotch fits.  There is too much fabric there and the fabric seems to hang from the bottom of the zipper opening.  I do need to take in the sides but most of the bagginess you see on the sides is actually coming from the back:

Big 4 pant pattern muslin - Back
I have a flat derriere and thin thighs.  It looks like I need less fabric around the thighs so you would think what I need is to take in some fabric along the inseams.  One instructor suggested I take in the inseams and scoop out the crotch but that didn't work.  I still had bagginess.  Here's the counterintuitive part:  I needed more fabric there!

In the photo below, I placed the Big 4 pant pattern back (the tissue) on top of the Joyce Murphy pant pattern (white paper) and you can see how the Joyce Murphy pant pattern has a longer back crotch length!



In the photo below,  the Joyce Murphy front crotch is 3/4 inch shorter than the Big 4 pant pattern front.  This smaller measurement takes away the excess fabric at the front:


Another very important factor is the crotch curve.  At the risk of over sharing, here is mine.  I obtained it using a flexible ruler.  I placed a red rubber band where my  inseam is located.  Given that I have a flat derriere, I was absolutely astonished that my shape was so round, almost a perfect circle - ha!  I did this repeatedly to make sure I got the shape right, because I just couldn't believe it, but I kept coming up with this.  The space inside the flexible ruler is what Joyce Murphy calls "body space." Everyone has their own unique body space:


So when I took the above photo and drew in "legs", the flat derriere (as well as tummy - boohoo) becomes evident.  Funny how the eye can distort reality (or is it wishful thinking)!


When I abut the front and back Joyce Murphy pattern pieces together and place the flexible ruler along the crotch, the shape matches the flexible ruler quite nicely:


Another factor at play here is the angle of the center back seam.  The more angled the seam, the more it can accommodate a curvier derriere and the opposite is true for a flat derriere.  You don't need much of an angle for a flat derriere.  Why?

A DART!!!!
In the above photo, I traced the pattern so that I have both the left and right sides of the back pattern and had them meet at the back notch since this is what you would do when you sew.  And what do you see - A DART!  If you think about men's shirts, there are no bust darts because they are flat.  Women's fitted and semi-fitted blouses have darts, because they are needed for shaping over the bust. As those of us who must make full bust adjustments know, the bigger the bust, the larger the dart.  Those who are small in this area must make a small bust adjustment, a smaller dart.

Same goes for pants!  The curvier the derriere, the larger the "dart" needs to be so a greater angle would help.  Someone with a flat derriere, like myself, needs a smaller "dart" or an angle that is at less of an angle.  I first heard of this center back "dart" in a Lorraine Henry class at an expo.

So for me, in order to get pants that fit nicely, I needed to add to the back crotch length, reduce the front crotch length, make sure the crotch curve mirrored mine and reduce the angle of the center back seam.  Whew!

There is a wealth of information out there on fitting pants and many different methods.  Finding the method that works for you requires much experimentation but most of all perseverance and patience.

Now I want to use this pant block to create pants with different leg shapes and in different fabrics.  I am sure these changes will present their own challenges, especially different types of fabric.  Hmmmm...



Happy sewing!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pants Fit: Part I

Throughout the years, I have tried many different methods of pant fitting in an attempt to make pants that fit me nicely.  I have taken many online classes.  I have gone to seminars.  I have taken every pant fitting class offered at the sewing expos I have attended.  Each class deepened my understanding of pant fitting and why pants don't fit me well.  Despite all my efforts, I could not make pants that fit me properly.  My problem is that I have too much fabric below the derriere.  There have been times where I got so exasperated that I just put the whole thing aside and picked it up much later.

By far the method that worked best for me was a pant fitting class offered some time ago by the NJ Chapter of the ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) taught by Karen Bengtson (member of the Colorado Chapter).  Karen based her techniques on the Joyce Murphy method of pants fitting using Joyce Murphy's pant block.


Karen had a "test pant" of each size of the pant block.  She had us try on the test pant that came closest to our size and then "draped" them on us.  She took it in here and there until she was satisfied with the resulting fit.  She measured the adjustments and had us record them.

We then traced Joyce Murphy's pant block and transferred the recorded adjustments to the pattern we had traced.  We then cut the pants out in fabric and sewed them.  It was a 3 day class well worth the time and effort.

Goodness - they had a nice fit!  Just a little bit of wrinkling below the derriere on the left (my left hip is lower) but it doesn't bother me at all.  Woo hoo!


And now I am a happy camper!


Karen Bengtson still does pant fitting sessions so if you are interested, do contact her by emailing her at Karenssewunique at gmail dot com.  If you want to try the method on your own, you can certainly do so.  Check out Joyce Murphy's website where you can purchase the pant block.  Joyce wrote 3 articles for Threads magazine which will assist you with fitting the pants:  Issues 119, 122 and 139.  By studying these articles, you can try her techniques and methods and see if they work for you.  (By the way, I have no affiliate relationships with either Karen or Joyce.)

Joyce Murphy's pant block uses a European cut.  I notice that the pattern has a different crotch shape and different crotch lengths for the front and back pattern pieces than do the Big 4.  For my next post, I am going to explore why I think her pant block worked for me.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I am Honored

I feel so honored and flattered that Faye from Faye's Sewing Adventure has featured me on her wonderful blog.  Faye currently has a fun interview series going on and I am so excited to have been selected.  You can check out the interview here.

While you are there, be sure to check out the interviews she has done of some fun and inspiring bloggers.  It is so gracious of her to do this for her fellow bloggers.

Thank you so much Faye!


Monday, March 14, 2016

Inspired by a Commuter

On my way to work, I saw a woman on the bus with a grey and black raglan animal print top and I just loved it.  I decided I would make one for me.  I purchased the grey and black animal print novelty fabric and the black ponte fabric at NY Elegant in NYC.

This self-drafted top was made about a month ago when the weather was much colder here in the Northeastern U.S.  Temperatures are milder now although there is still enough coolness in the air for me to wear it.




I ran into a little bit of trouble with the sleeves since I did not purchase enough fabric.  When I purchased the fabric, for whatever reason, I purchased enough for a set-in sleeve but I wanted to make a raglan sleeve and a raglan sleeve has extra length to accommodate the shoulder.  I completely forgot about this little fact when purchasing the fabric!

Pondering how to resolve this problem, I was thinking of making it a 3/4 sleeve or perhaps adding a band at the bottom of the sleeve.  I realized that the raw edge of the fabric was right in line with where I had planned to have the folded edge of the hem.  Looking at what a nice clean cut edge the ponte had, I decided to just leave the edge of the sleeve with a raw edge hem.  I have seen this treatment often in ready to wear so it will just have to work for me!


Once I realized what a clean raw edge the ponte provided, I decided to use this characteristic to bind the neckline.  I cut off the seam allowance along the neckline.  I then cut strips 1 1/4" wide and simply folded it so that the raw edge of the animal print fabric abutted the folded edge of the strip.  I made sure the strip was wider on the wrong side of the animal print fabric so that I could catch the strip while topstitching.  I positioned it by basting it in place and then I topstitched it.

Once I was done, I felt like the top still needed a little something.  It just seemed boring to me and a little frumpy on me.  I tried different necklaces but I was just not happy with the look.  Looking at the various strips of fabric on my cutting table, I decided to play around with the strips and realized I could place them strategically along the neckline.  Much like the sunburst design you see with pleats on many tops, I decided to do something similar with the strips.  Since the neckline binding on the fashion side of the fabric is 1/2" wide, I decided the strips would be 1/2" wide as well.

I positioned them in place with 1/2" Steam-a-Seam fusible tape.  I used a light setting on my iron and a pressing cloth on top so as to not damage the fabric or create shine on the black strips.  Once they were bonded in place, I topstitched them down.  I figured even though they were bonded in place, I wanted to make sure they stayed that way when laundered a few times.

I like the top much better now that it has these strips in place.  They look like piano keys to me.


For the hem of the body, I simply folded it and topstitched it in place.  Even though the animal print fabric is a knit, I still must use darts in order to get a good fit for my figure.  I used my usual technique for sewing darts on knits.  Happily, the darts get lost in this busy print.

Here is the back view:



Well, I want to move on to pants.  I have lots of fit issues with pants so I hope to tackle this next...or maybe the pants will tackle me.  Ha!  

Happy sewing!