Sunday, March 30, 2008

Answers on Saran Block, Etc.

A couple years ago I did a Saran Wrap Block using instructions from Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion-Incubator fame. I highly recommend this if you want to draft your own patterns and need a sloper/block to start from, or if you want a guide to lay over commercial patterns to see how close they are to your shape. After you do the wrap, you grade up 2" to give you blouse wearing ease. Vicki asked if I had any tips on doing this, and someone else asked if I used the "pivot and slide" method, and I thought I'd post my responses here.

Photos of Saran Block pieces before and after grading up. All photos referred to in this section are in this gallery. Choose Original size below the photos to see in great detail.

You can get a good idea of what I did just by looking at the photos of the pattern pieces as I changed them. I did not pivot to grade up. When you grade something up, you are making the entire thing bigger, not just certain areas, so you don't want to pivot.

I added 1/2" at each side seam, both on the front and back pieces.

I added only 1/4" on the shoulder seam, as I didn't want the shoulders graded up as much.

I didn't add any at the CF or CB, as I didn't want to move the bust point or shoulder blade point.

If you look at the photos of my pattern with the 2" ease added, you can see where I marked 1/2" and an arrow to show which way I went on the corners. This was so I would remember what I did. I think I moved the lower armscye point down also. Grading should have the result gained from an "exploded" view of something. It should move out evenly in (almost) all directions. Think about how the saran wrap fit your body. That's how the ungraded pattern will make up. You probably don't want anything skin tight, so think of how you'd like a dressy blouse to fit. There would be ease around the body, and the armscye would be slightly dropped, for comfort. The shoulders could be extended slightly. You might want to add some lengthwise ease as well. That's what grading up the 2" should give you; a nice blouse-fit.

You'll have corrections and refinements when you make up your test muslin, and the blue line on my Master Pattern is my corrected armscye which is what I use for a sleeveless top. The armscye from the original saran wrap was more of what you'd use for a sleeve with a normally dropped armscye. Since very high-cut armscyes are "in" right now, that's what I wanted, especially for a sleeveless top, so this is actually cutting the armscye shallower. If you look at the lavender bodice I made from the 2" ease added pattern, you can see the ink line which shows the original saran armscye. (I drew around each piece with ink on my fabric, then cut on seam allowances.) I added seam allowances when I made this up, and I kind of liked where they hit me. That's what the blue line is. Look at the difference between the 5th and 7th photos, and you can see that the 7th was corrected to incorporate the blue line.

I did a review of the whole wrap process that you can read here.

New Question: Sally asked where I got my large rotary cutting mat. It's a Big Mat and I got it from The Sewing Emporium in Chula Vista, California. Their website isn't much, but I think you can call or email them. NAYY, but a very satisfied customer, and I bought mine at least 15 years ago, or more. There are lots of places that have the larger size mats available if you Google for them. I think if you're going to use a rotary cutter for garments, you absolutely must have a very large mat. Otherwise, you're just asking for grain problems.

Well, back to my floral top. It's stitched together, but I've decided it needs some serious embellishment. Not anything frou-frou, but it was looking extremely plain, and not in a good way. I've been playing with my scraps though, and ideas are percolating up.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Skirt Muslin


I wasn't going to post a photo of a "muslin", but it turned out that I really like this skirt. Since it was just a muslin, I didn't add a hem allowance to it, and this has a serged edge that's turned up once and edgestitched, so I only lost perhaps 1/4" - 3/8" in the hemming. I like this length, just at the bottom of the knee. I think skirt length is much more critical if you're going to wear flats than it is with heels.

It's my usual straight skirt pattern (Burda 8566) to which I added some flare. I tried to get a photo of the front, but for some reason they all turned out really dark. Must be some karmic thing..... Anyway, you get 2 side shots instead. It's going to be a casual skirt that I can wear around the house and still look decent if I have to run out to the grocery store or somewhere. I finished the "real" version last night, and it has quite a different look because the fabric has much more body than this, and it stands out more. I'm working on the top now.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

A Real Surprise


I was very surprised today when this lovely basket was delivered from my eye doctor's office. I had gone to pick up my new glasses yesterday and had a really dismaying experience with the girl who was to fit them, etc. I won't go into details, but in about 5 minutes, she was able to completely destroy any good feelings I had about the business, my glasses, etc. I was stunned by the whole experience, and finally decided that rather than just feeling mad, hurt and never going back, I'd call the office manager and give her all the particulars. We both go there for refraction, glasses and contacts, and everyone there has always been so very nice that it was unbelievable that this was the kind of thing they wanted to happen.

I am so glad I called. Rhonda was so nice, and genuinely appalled to hear what had happened. She was willing to do whatever it took to make me happy, although I really couldn't think of anything. She apologized over and over, and I thought the matter was closed. When the basket came today, I was just amazed! How nice is that, and they will certainly be seeing us again when we need exams, glasses and for me, contacts as well.

So, what's in the basket? Contact lens solution, Optical hand soap, a darling contacts case, a contact, hand/body lotion, cookies and tea. Definitely a calming influence!
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cutting Up

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This is the fabric I've been attempting to cut out for the last few days. At the time I ordered it, I planned a skirt with some flare, and a princess seam sleeveless top. Bu the time I got the fabric, I'd changed my mind to doing a top with vertical darts instead, and with short/cap sleeves. This made it a bit trickier to get it all out of the same yardage. I finally conquered it this afternoon, and it's all cut out, and the skirt is nearly done. It's underlined with silk organza, and I love this fabric. It sews beautifully, and has a lovely hand. Quite a bit of body to it as well. You can see how very large the print is, but I think it's just perfect for this spring. Huge prints seem to be the thing, and I love the watercolor effect of this one.

Vicki wondered why I didn't draft a princess seam top from my saran block, and I suppose that's what I should do. Maybe it's not that princess seamed garments aren't my thing, maybe I just haven't had the right one for me. This top is actually taken from a pattern that I altered extensively using my block, and I love the sleeves. I had to shorten them to get this out of the fabric, but I think it will still be alright, although I may face the sleeve hems if I need to. I almost made a terrible error while cutting. I was so thrilled to find that I could make it all work that I almost cut 2 left backs. That would have been a disaster, as I doubt I could get any more of this.

You can see my layout above, sort of. I folded the fabric so that the doubled part was no wider than necessary for the skirt pieces. I then cut one Top Back from the space between the skirt pieces on the opposite selvedge, and the other Back and both Fronts from what was left above the skirt back. I hate having a close layout that I have to keep refolding, as if you make a mistake, there's generally no fixing it. This fabric only has 44" of usable width, as there are extra-wide unprinted selvedges. I think I'm spoiled by all the 60" fabric there is. I can't even imagine having to go to 36" all the time, as is called for in vintage patterns.

This is really going to be a pretty quick project I think, once I got it all cut out finally. The sewing should be very easy, and as a good omen, the zipper went in like a dream.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Glasses Decision

Thank you all for taking the time to help me decide which pair of glasses I should get. Although it would be great fun to have both of them, for different moods, it seemed quite extravagant to have 2 pairs just as a backup to my contact. And of course, I'd rather spend it on fabric, etc.

So, I went with Choice #1. It's not as avant garde or trendy as the second pair, but I think it will be wearable for a much longer time without looking dated, and that's probably one of the most important things right now.

I loved hearing what you all thought. It really did help me make up my mind. I liked them both so much that it was very difficult to choose, and either one would have been fine, really. Your comments are what finally helped me make the decision. Now I have to wait 2 weeks to get them. Not exactly the speed of light, but whatever.

Trial and Error


I've been working on getting a nice fitted top that I can use to do a 2-piece dress with and have been through 3 muslins, one wearable, which you see above. After the wearable one, I realized that if I wanted better results, I ought to start with something different as a base. I was using a very fitted Marfy jacket pattern with nice princess seams plus a dart. It was working somewhat, but I realized that no matter how nice princess seams work for everyone else, they've never been my best style. So, I decided to start with a darted pullover Vogue blouse pattern that I had altered using my saran block. I consider the two blouses I've made from it in the past to be some of the best-fitting and most comfortable ones I have, so why not start there? This seemed to work very well. and I'm very pleased with what I whipped up tonight. I made a nice wide scoop neckline and it has small sleeves which I think improve over a sleeveless top for me. I think I'm going to use facings on it instead of lining it completely like I did here, although I do want to underline it.

I will start tweaking my skirt pattern tomorrow and I don't anticipate much trouble there. If I have enough fabric to do it, I want to do a fairly deep pleat on each side of the center and put pockets there.

I ordered a very large scale floral print for this, and I think it's going to be nice. It probably would have been nice to have it done for Easter, except that it's going to be so cold Sunday that I may have to wear my winter coat.

I've also been knitting on a new project. It's the Cropped Cardigan from the big anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting from last fall? I didn't think much of it when I saw the magazine, but Elann had someone knit it up in one of their yarns, and it look so much better than the original. I like the pattern stitch very much. They just call it Textured Stitch, but I realized it looks kind of like crocheted Afghan Stitch to me, although with extra diagonals. It's kind of fun to knit, too. The right side has you slip a stitch, knit a stitch, yarn over, and then pass the slipped stitch over the other two. You just purl back on the wrong side.
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Monday, March 17, 2008

Which Glasses? Opinions, please.

Well, I'm looking for new glasses. I've been going through various kinds of things ever since the need for bifocals arrived, and I'm pretty much settled on wearing one contact lens most of the time. I've always been extremely nearsighted, and I can wear a multi-focal lens in one eye, and nothing in the other so that I can see close work, like sewing or knitting where I have to really be able to focus on on stitch or thread. But, I have never had bifocal glasses and have just been using my last pair of glasses for emergency purposes. I decided the time had come, and so of course I'm looking at frames. We've narrowed it down to two frames. I got to bring them home and see which one is more comfortable, etc. They both seem equally comfortable, so naturally it's down to looks.

Sorry for the somewhat blurry photos. They looked pretty good until I cropped them. Anyway, there are front and side views of both frames. The more rounded frame is first, and the more squared frame is second, so let's call them 1 and 2. One is a little more rounded and has frame all around the lens while 2 is a little more squared, and is rimless on the bottom. Please ignore the writing on the lenses.

Leave a comment to let me know what you think. I am going back and forth, so I'm really interested in what the consensus is.




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I also got the new Vogue Knitting today, and the KnitNStyle came last week.


I've been doing some knitting, but more sewing lately. A muslin of a sleeveless, princess-seamed top that I made using a well-fitting Marfy jacket pattern. I'm pretty pleased so far, but haven't finished the test garment from the muslin pattern. It's been interesting, though, and I may take a photo of my pattern pieces. They certainly are not standard looking in several ways.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

2 Tops - 2 Very Different Styles

I finished up the silk crepe de chine tank the other night and am pretty happy with it. When I made the Marfy suit that it matches (a couple years ago) I was wearing it with an old silk top which by now has seen better days, and I always planned to do something with the silk scraps I had, but just never quite got to it. As I said, this is Marfy #9829 which was one of the free patterns in the Spring 2006 catalog. I'd made it before in knits and liked it, but one of the suggested fabrics was a woven. I used to wear a lot of silk tanks with jackets, but I haven't had any for quite a while, and I like just a basic tank for that. I see now that for a woven, you're supposed to put a side seam zipper in the top, so I may try that next time, but for a thin silk like this, it might be a little close-fitting anyway. I just added what amounted to 4" of ease to this at the bust and about an inch at the hip, and stitched it up, after a quick muslin of course. You can see it below with the jacket and also a pair of pants from my TNT pattern, with wide legs. I don't have any shoes on in the photo, so that makes them drag on the ground a bit.

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I used bias binding on the armscyes and neckline, with a bow finishing the back neck.

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Once I finished this, I wanted to make something from a darling bias plaid print knit, and used Simplicity #4020 which I made once before and liked pretty well. I think it turned out well in this, and I love the colors.

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This was truly a quickie project, as I started it last night about 11pm and finished about 2:30am. I know I should work during the day instead, but honestly, there are a lot fewer interruptions at night.

Silliness for March

I was reading Carolyn and Mardel's blogs and they both linked to a What Does Your Name Mean? quiz thingy. Well, after reading their results and doing my own, I think there's some sort of method having to do with the letters in your name, with variations for the initial letter. If you notice, Carolyn has many more attributes since she has many more letters. I also think anyone who has an A in their name is designated as a Type A personality. It's cute anyway.

What Liana Means

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.

You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.

Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.

You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.

You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

But, there was another quiz there that's a grammar quiz! Since Monday was National Grammar Day, I thought I'd link you to it. It's called the Its, It's, There, They're, Their quiz. If you don't like grammar or quizzes, I can just say: There, there, it will soon be over.

You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.

If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.

As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.

And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

BSJ Hat is Done & Button Update

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Well, I like this hat better now that it's done. It's a birthday present for my brother so I hope he likes it too. I was pretty sure there would be plenty of winter left for him to wear it, but today it was 69 degrees! Considering it's only been a week since it was barely above zero for a high, that's quite an achievement. I'm sure the cold will return and in fact, there's a chance of snow tomorrow, so he will probably be able to wear it if he wants to.

It's quite asymmetric, and after trying it on, I really like it. I'm not sure that I want to make another one, although it's a very interesting pattern, and I used several techniques I've not done before, so it was also a learning experience.

Those of you who read the Sharing, Inspiration thread on Stitcher's Guild know that I've been whining gently about the buttons on my coat. I love the buttons, and I am really loving the coat as it's so comfortable to wear, even though it's fairly fitted for a coat. However, the buttons are determined to remain separate from the coat. The holes in the buttons are sharp enough that they were cutting through thread like butter. I had to resew at least one button every time I wore it. I tried different threads, more thread, a fabric strip through the holes (which are too small for a fabric tube) and nothing made any difference. I was thinking of looking for new buttons, but I found a spool of the old-style nylon mono-filament thread and tried that. It seems to be working! Hooray! I've wondered why I hung onto this spool, as it's more like fishing line than thread, but I was pretty sure if I threw it out I'd instantly need it. Thank goodness my inner pack-rat prevailed.

I'm working on a silk tank from the same Marfy pattern that I used for the twisted-binding tanks I made last summer. They were in knit fabric, but says in the catalog that the pattern is suitable for jersey or crepe. I always wondered about that, but a friend told me that crepe generally has about as much stretch as jersey and that the dual rating is not unusual. I'm not using crepe, but a crepe de chine which does not seem stretchy to me, so after trying the pattern on my dressform, I added 1" at the side seams and did a muslin first. This is just about right. I'm doing the binding, but not twisted binding. I had thought about it, but I think the plain is fine for this. It's some fabric that's left from a tweed Marfy suit that had lapels and cuffs of crepe de chine. I decided I wanted a simple top to wear under it, and had enough of the silk left to do this.