Friday, December 24, 2010

Catching Up

My holiday preparations are under control and I have some time to answer reader questions.

There were a couple of questions on the Burda Curved Inset Jacket

Carolyn asked “Do you think if you had used 5/8" seam allowances on the curves that it wouldn't have lain as flat when the curves were cut? It's not that I'm disputing Burda's instructions, but rather thinking of how this would work with a big 4 pattern? Thanks

Response: I do think that when sewing a curved seam where you have to join an outward curve to an inward curve, a narrower smaller seam allowance eliminates extra fabric that has to be clipped, pinned, and manipulated while sewing. It also results in less fabric to iron flat. So all in all the narrower seam allowance probably does aid in achieving a good final result. In doing some research on your question. I found this on the Simplicity web site.

When is the seam allowance not 5/8"?
On very small pieces such as doll clothes, on small detail pieces such as belt carriers and in larger areas where you would need to trim away the excess seam allowance; we typically reduce the seam allowance to 3/8" or 1/4" to make your sewing easier.

However, I have rarely see seam allowances less than 5/8” on the big 4 patterns. I think reducing seam allowances may be one of the things a sewist will do based on their experience and confidence. It took a while for me to get away from the comfort of the 5/8 inch seam allowances used by the big four pattern companies, because that is what I “learned” in my early sewing experiences.

Barbara asked, "Did you interface all the jacket pieces? "

Response: I did not interface the jacket back or sleeve pieces. I did interface around the back neck and armholes openings as well as the sleeve and back hems. Whether to interface the back jacket pieces and sleeves is something I mentally mull over every time I make a jacket. The fabric weight and drape, and the style of the jacket is usually what determines if I interface all the garment pieces or not. I don't always make the best decision and have been know to interface pieces that are already sewn together.

Carolyn also asked about the closure on the Kwik Sew Fur Coat .

Response: There is an in-seam button hole in the seam between the collar and the jacket front. The button I chose blends in with the fur so well that even my son, who was standing 5 feet in front of me, commented he had trouble seeing it.

"42" commenting several days ago on an older post Bunka - Fundimentals of Garment Design asking “I am a little curious (not important, but fascinating) as to why so many Americans and Australians are using and in fact very much in love with Bunka Sloper? (an Asian sloper) What are the benefits of possessing this sloper? I myself are Chinese and I never knew that is it a treasure until I learned from you all through blogging.

Response: For me the motivation to use the Bunka sloper is that it is the base used to draft all the wonderful garments featured in the Ms. Stylebook and Lady Boutique magazines. And the sloper drafting instructions, which are diagrams rather than words, can be understood without reading Japanese. There are pattern drafting books available in the USA, but the garment styles included in those books are basic, limited, and are of the time the book was published. As you guessed the Bunka Asian sloper (either from the preprinted magazine insert or drafted from my measurements) still needed some changes to fit my taller, middle aged, non Asian body properly. But after making those changes, I have a sloper I can use to draft the magazine patterns.
i hope that answers all the outstanding questions.

My last bit of sewing this year was my holiday party dress. This year the dress was black. I don’t think I have ever had a black dress. I never been convinced by the Little Black Dress (LBD) marketing hype. I associate black dresses with somber occasions like funerals, or the uniforms worn by female members of choruses or orchestras. So I was a little startled to find myself gravitating towards black this year. After a little introspective thinking, I believe my color selection was driven by my state of mind and some stressful life events that occurred in Nov. and early Dec. when I was planning for the holiday parties. We were dealing with unexpected surgeries required by an elderly family member. Car repairs, insurance and legal hassles resulting from my car being hit (no injuries) by an out of control, non insured, non licensed, ESL driver. And a heavy work load. Fortunately the 2nd surgery was a success, the insurance company settled after 7 weeks of negotiations, and the work project was a resounding success.
The pattern is from a 2000 holiday issue of a Russian language version of Boutique pattern magazine. The dress is fitted, with waist inserts, cap sleeves, a scooped front and V back neckline.

I liked the fitted silhouette of the dress and came up with several options for the neckline trim. It was shown with the neckline trimmed with fur. I had an old mink collar I considered refashioning into fur trim similar to that shown in the picture. As another option I considered adding neckline flounces in a sheer sequined fabric. This idea came from a picture of a dress worn at the Melbourne Race posted by Gail
But in the interest of time, what I ultimately ended up using was a premade trim of faux jewels and sequins. It came in a curved piece that was pretty close to the dress front neckline curve, and straight yardage which I used on the back neckline. The trim was on sale for about $4.00, probably because the faux jewel fad is fading or perhaps over, but it worked for me in terms of cost and ease of application. I hand tacked the trim in place so it will be easy to remove and replace with a different trim.

The dress fabric is a lightweight wool crepe and it is lined in red and black print silk twill. It was very easy to accessorize with sheer hose and strappy sandals.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy holiday season, whatever holidays you celebrate! And a wonderful start to 2011!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Warning - Curves Ahead

I got a lot of practice sewing curved seams on my last project, which was jacket 103 from BurdaStyle Magazine Oct 2007. The magazine description: "A round bias cut insert vividly offsets the straight lines of the plaid as well as emphasizing the fitted silhouette of the short jacket. This combination of narrow lapels/reveres with an extra wide collar is also new."

I have liked this jacket since I got the issue because of the inserts and the fitted silhouette. It just took me a while to find a suitable fabric. Looking at the line drawing I was a little puzzled as to how the fitted silhouette was achieved without darts. There is only so much fitting in the bust area that can be done with curved sides seams.
To find out, I traced the patterns pieces and taped them together with removable clear tape. Because the traced pattern pieces have no seam allowances, taping the pieces together along the seams is a great way to check the accuracy of the tracing, the draft of the pattern and the silhouette. I found that some of the bust and hip shaping is done with the insert. The insert shape is not an exact duplicate of the cut out shape. The length of the curve is the same, but the shape of the curve on the insert is slightly different than the curve of the cut out. When the insert is sewn in the opening, it creates the same shape that a side bust dart and vertical bust dart would create.
Burda recommends a 3/8 inch seam allowance on all the curved seams of the jacket cutout and the insert. This is definitely a good tip, but a lot of clipping is required to get pucker free insertion.

The collar is a bit different, very wide compared to the lapel and with a collar stand only in the back neck area which makes it stand up nicely. The collar stand is yet another inset curve. And the insets have to sewn in the lining as well. Like I said, lots of curves. The wool blend fabric was purchased at Hancock’s.