Sunday, July 24, 2011

Keeping Cool in Hot colors - Vogue 1223

It has been so hot and humid here in central Virginia that I have forsaken outside activities in favor of sewing in air conditioned comfort.
I just finished Vogue pattern 1223. It is a mid knee length lined dress, fitted at the bust with pleated front and back skirt, a back zipper and narrow hems.
I liked the diagonal tucks on the front bodice that release into pleats on the skirt. And I thought it would be a good pattern for one of the big prints that are everywhere this summer. The tucks lines would break up the print, but you would still get the color impact. The recommended fabrics were chiffon, crepe de chine, and organza. Chiffon is my nemesis fabric, so no way on that one, I found some lovely big prints in silk charmeuse, but they were in the $25/yard range. Too much money for me to risk on a style and pattern I hadn't made before. And they were shiny. I prefer matte finish silks. So when I found a bright tropical print in woven rayon on sale at Hancock Fabrics, I bought it. If all the work resulted in a wadder, I wouldn’t feel too bad. This style was a bit hard to evaluate for fit. I ended up pinning the tucks in the front pattern pieces, pinning the 3 pieces together and holding the pattern up to my body to evaluate the fit, matching the shoulder seams to my shoulders and checking the waist location and width. No changes needed. I did make my normal length changes to the bodice back. The front pieces have to be cut out in a single layer and all those tucks have to be marked. So there is a lot of prep work before sewing can start. I cut out large pattern pieces like this on my kitchen floor. The linoleum blocks also help me square up the fabric.
I remembered seeing a picture of this dress on the model where she wasn’t swirling the skirt(maybe in the Vogue Pattern magazine) and the front hem was not even. I think this is due to the diagonal tucks and how the fabric hangs when released on the bias. This will vary with the fabric used.
I definitely had the same problem with my fabric. It is easiest to see on the mannequin. But even with my hips filling out the dress the sides were still lower than the center front. To even up the hem I used my handy dandy Dritz Chalk Hem Marker. This is a goofy looking device with a nozzle that you fix to the desired height from the ground where you want your hem to be. You stand, wearing the garment you want to mark the hem on, with the nozzle very close to the fabric. The nozzle is attached to a bulb you hold in your hand. When you squeeze the bulb, a jet of air shoots chalk through the nozzle onto your garment. As you slowly rotate and continue to give the bulb more squeezes, the hem will be marked the same distance from the ground all around your garment. You should not be looking down when you do this, like I am in the picture, because it affects the hang of the dress. I am looking down because I hadn't used this gizmo in a while and wanted to make sure the chalk hadn't run out and needed refilling.
The chalk will brush off so easily, I immediately insert pins at the chalk marks or mark them in wash out marker to make them more permanent and visible.I trimmed the bottom edge along the marks

Both the hem of the dress and the hem of the lining were done with my rolled/narrow hem foot. It made the hemming go very quickly.

I used a very light weight silk cotton woven for the lining. I had bought it to make a blouse but it was too thin for that. It worked great for a lining.

I am so pleased by how well this dress turned out, I may make it again silk.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vintage Patterns - Resizing using a sloper - Part 2

I fully intended to post part 2 of the pattern resizing shortly after part 1, but I had to put it aside when I realized I had volunteered to present the program at the July sewing guild meeting, and hadn't done any preparation. I did the presentation, which was on Sewing with a Plan (SWAP). So here we go on the Vogue 380 blouse front pattern resizing. Many of the steps are the same as those used on the back pattern piece, but the front has some decorative tucks, located on a center front seam above the bust, that impacted the pattern changes.

Here is the original blouse front pattern piece

And here is the copy of the front pattern with all the markings

which I will compare to my sloper. I rotated part of the waist dart on my sloper front to the side like the blouse pattern.

1. Pattern Sloper Comparison - Front

Align the center front of the pattern with the center front of the sloper
Align the waistline seam of the pattern with the waistline seam of the sloper

The center front tucks don’t appear to contribute to bust shaping. But unfolded, they make it hard to line up the center front and check the fit in the neck area. So I form the tucks and smooth the pattern so it is flat and the center front seam is straight. Now I can match up the center front easily. I was surprised to see that the tucks reallly pull the fabric in the shoulder area down and affects the fit in that area. So I will do all the pattern changes with the tucks folded.

2. Vertical Adjustments

The front is too short. The neck point of the pattern is below the neck point of the sloper about 5/8 inch. I will be adding less length in the front than I did it the back. This is normal for me. The underarm point of the pattern is way below the underarm of my sloper so I add the length below the arm hole opening, slashing from side seam to neck point in an "L" shape. This lets me to raise the shoulder, raise the underarm point and rotate the shoulder seam up the 1/2 inch needed for the shoulder pad in one operation.

3. Horizontal Adjustments


I also notice that the neck point, where the close fitting raised neckline should start to go up the side of the neck, needs to be moved closer to my neck opening. To get the correct shape of the raised neckline I put a small piece of tissue paper over the pattern and redraw the raised neck so it starts at my shoulder point.

Width at Bust- no changes.

Width at Waist - I compare the sloper dart width to pattern tuck take up. I need some extra width in the waist and I add it at the side seam. I change the location of tucks to the center of the new waist width

Width at Hip - I add additional width to the pattern to equal ¼ of my hip measurement .

Here is what the final pattern looks like with the front tucks opened up again. The tucks really do pull the shoulder area down when they are formed.

I checked the lengths of the side seams and shoulder seams to make sure they are the same on both the front and back. I drafted the front facing using the new shape of the neck area. I added a center back seam for fitting and easy sewing of the top back opening. I did not put a zipper in the side seam as suggested by the pattern. The fabric I used for this blouse was a rayon polka dot jacquard in a gray green color sometimes referred to a sea mist. I thought rayon was appropriate because it was available and used for clothing in the 1940’s. Back then it was called the “new silk”. Though my mother remembers the rayon from that time as cheap, flimsy fabric that did not hold up well. The tucks in the sleeve and the front are sunburst tucks, so named because they start at the same point and radiate out. The front seam is on the bias, so to get the tucks to match took a bunch of fiddling and hand basting. I sewed the tucks along the fold lines to hold them in place. The fabric was so soft, they drooped and looked sloppy without the stitching.

The blouse fits well and looks very much like the drawing which was very satisfying for a first resizing effort.

Next post will be on the resizing of the skirt. And then back to showing you current fashions, the summer clothes I sewed for my SWAP presentation.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Answers to Bra Questions.

I wanted to answer some of the Bra related question I received on my last post just in case other readers are interested in the answers.

Lynneb has left a new comment on your post "Bravo":

It's a fascinating concept to me...making my own bras. Thank you again for such a detailed and informative post. I do you feel about the seam across the center of the cup? And is there such a thing as making a seamless cup?

I wasn't thrilled about the seam across the cup because I usually wear molded cup bras, The seam did enable me to get a cup that matched my shape exactly. I sometimes have trouble filling up all parts of a molded foam cup. I won't wear the bras I made under T shirts because the seam does shows through. I think you could cover a molded pad with stretch material and then sew it to the band just like we did for the cup on this pattern. I have been reading Melissa's blog where she is talking about making a smooth cup bra Fehrtrade She hasn't discussed covering the pads yet, which is what I am really interested in.
Bra Makers Supply has foam cups for sale and super stretchy fabric they say is to cover foam cups. I looked for instructions on their site, but couldn't find any. They might be in one of the bra making books they sell.

If you find any info on making bras with molded cups, let me know. I am very interested.

dd has left a new comment on your post "Bravo":

Those bras look great! I love the swimsuit pattern. Can it be purchased online? I hope to be able to take a bra making class when the sew n expo comes here.

The bathing suit pattern was purchased from Etsy seller Merckwaerdigh She is based in the Netherlands. Her pattern prices are equivalent to the big 4 non sale prices and shipping is a bit higher, but her bathing suit styles were different than any I had seen before, and my order arrived within a week.
Sign up for the Bra classes at the expo as soon as registration opens. From what I hear, they fill up quickly.

Myrna commented.
Great write-up. I took a bra sewing workshop a few years ago and loved it. I've sewn Elan 645 numerous times. It's a great pattern. Thanks for showing the strap. We weren't taught that way in my class. Our straps are elastic. I'd like to try that. How are they stitched? How long is the bit of elastic? Thanks.

Here is the quick and dirty description to make the non stretch strap. Cut a piece of the fabric 3 times the width of the finished strap desired and about 16 inches long. Apply "tailoring" weight nonwoven, iron on interfacing to the wrong side of the strap pieces. Fold strap pieces in thirds to the finished width and zig zag, or other similar type decorative stitch, on both long sides of the strap pieces, very close to the edge. We used tricot fabric for our straps in class and I used poly/lycra for one of my bras. With the interfacing applied, the fabric is no longer stretchy. There are variations in Anne's book for a similar straps with padding or padding just at the shoulders. The piece of elastic is 3" long. After attaching to the band with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and the strap with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, the part that shows is about 2.25". The no stretch strap is attached to the elastic in the back as one of the last steps. The bra is put on and the strap is pinned to the front cup at the desired length, making sure the bra cups are pulled up to a perky height. Anne really hiked the bra cups up when doing this step. Mark seam on the strap and cup. Take the bra off and sew strap in place.

I have seen some really pretty bras sewn from the Elan pattern. I definitely want to make that one next.

VIntage Patterns - Resizing using a sloper - Part 1

I have a lot of vintage patterns. Most of them are not in my size. One day I told myself, "no more buying vintage patterns if you aren't going to do something with them." So I decided to try resizing one of them to fit me. I chose a 1940’s Vogue Couturier design pattern, number 380. It included a "fitted jacket with small inset godet at centre of dropped back-line. Loop and button closing below small stand-up collar. Long fitted sleeves. Skirt has straight front and godet flare at centre-back, shaped waistband. The blouse is described as a “tuck in blouse with cap sleeves cut in one with front and back. Built-up collarless neck- line.” The pattern was a size 12 - 32 inch bust, 35 hip. I have a 38 inch bust and a 41 inch hip. Major up sizing required. I have successfully completed the blouse and skirt. The review is on I have been asked for some info on my up sizing process, so the next few posts will be about that topic. I will start with the blouse.

There are various methods to resize a pattern. Since I have a custom fitted bodice sloper, I used the method described in Lynda Maynard’s self-published CD book De-Mystifying Fit: Using the moulage(sloper/block) to adjust commercial patterns. De-Mystifying Fit In her book, one of the examples she shows it the up sizing of the 1970’s Vogue pattern for the iconic DVF wrap dress. I had a Duh-Ha moment when I read it. Using my sloper also takes care of the normal fitting changes I have to make on any pattern. If you don’t have a fitted bodice sloper, you might be able to use a TNT pattern of a similar style to your pattern, or the fit bodice pattern of a pattern brand that customarily fits you well.

1. Study the pattern

Like many patterns from the 1940’s, the pattern pieces have no printing on them. The seam lines, darts, tucks and match points, even pattern piece names are indicated by little circular or square cutouts.

I find non printed patterns difficult to “read”. My first step is to spend time looking the line drawings of pattern pieces on the pattern instructions and note where tucks, darts, and key seams, are located. Then I look at the pattern pieces for the corresponding holes/markings for the tucks, darts, etc. that I saw in the drawings, as well as waistline markings, shoulder point - SP and neck point - NP. And finally I read the layout diagrams and sewing instructions.

From these I learned the back is cut on fold with a faced slit opening at the top. I made a mental note to consider adding a center back seam to facilitate my fitting issues and back closure construction. I also surmised that the blouse is supposed to be very fitted at waist and hips, because the instructions show a slide fastener (zipper) closure at the lower side in addition to the back opening. The instructions included a section on making 1” thick shoulder pads for the blouse. So I make a note to make sure there is space in the shoulder area for the shoulder pads. The unique pleats in the blouse front appear to be decorative and do no contribute to the bust shaping. It is helpful to have an idea of the fit of a garment, i.e. fitted, semi fitted, loose, etc. so that during the resizing the correct wearing ease can be added. The pattern pieces measured 36" in the bust area and comparing it to the pattern bust measurement of 32” indicates the wearing ease = 4 inches

2. Make a Copy of the Pattern

I don't want to cut up the original pattern so I make a copy of it. I lay a piece of tracing paper over the pattern and copy the pattern edge and all the dot markings using pencil.
Then I remove the pattern from underneath the tracing paper and mark all the seam allowances dart and tuck lines, hem lines and waist line with a marker and ruler so it looks just like a commercially printed pattern. There is no need to make copies of facings at this time because future alterations may change the shape of the facing pattern pieces.
Optional - cut off seam allowances to make pattern easier to compare to sloper, which have no seam allowances

3. Make a copy of Sloper

My slopers are heavy cardboard. I trace them onto Kraft paper and mark the darts because I am going to do some dart rotation on the sloper so that the dart locations are the same as the pattern.

4. Rotate sloper dart to match the dart location of the pattern.

I rotated half of the back shoulder dart to the armhole. The pattern has a slight easing of the back shoulder to the front so I left half of the shoulder dart to be eased onto the front shoulder seam.

5. Pattern Sloper Comparison - Back

Lynda suggests starting with the back because it fairly flat and changes will be simple.

Align the waist of the pattern to the waist line of the sloper and align the center back of the pattern to the center back of the sloper. I know there will be a lot of change to the back pattern piece because my back is long and curved at the top and I have forward shoulders and neck.

Back Vertical adjustments - Do these first.

The neck point of the pattern is almost 2” below the shoulder point of my sloper.

The neck point, the distance above the waist where the shoulder meets the neck, is a constant point of reference. It doesn’t change. Do not use the neck center back on the pattern. The pattern may have a lowered of raised neckline for design purposes and this information may or may not be printed on the pattern. To add length, I slash the pattern horizontally above the waist and spread the pattern so that the neck point (NP) match the sloper.

Back Horizontal Adjustments–

Compare shoulder width. My shoulder width matches the pattern.

Compare shoulder slope. The pattern shoulder slope matched mine exactly. But this pattern includes instructions for a 1 “shoulder pad so it is drafted for a person with sloping shoulders. I decide to us ½” shoulder pads not the 1” recommended by the pattern. To create space for the pad, I slash the pattern to the NP and rotating the shoulder seam up ½ inch.

The side seam should start about 1 inch below the arm hole on kimono style sleeves, according to a 1940 sewing book I have, so I slashed the pattern horizontally through the armhole so I can move the top of the side seam 1 inch below the sloper arm hole.

Waist - I compared pattern dart take-up to sloper dart take-up. My sloper back waist dart take-up was bigger than the take-up of the two darted tucks on the pattern. So I can use my sloper side seam as the guide for waist width.

I true up the armhole opening line.

next post - resizing the blouse front.