Friday, February 20, 2009

SWAP Diary Feb 20

Stitcher’s Guild published SWAP 2009 Posting and voting guidelines last week and a mild panicky feeling started up in my stomach. Only 2 months to go. If I am going to complete this SWAP, I need to get into production mode, to
"motorvate" as my kids say. I actually sew faster than I blog about sewing. So far I have 6 items completed. 1 blouse wearable muslin that I have decided to include as a top, 3 other tops, 2 pair of pants and wearable muslin of the jacket that could actually be used as the SWAP jacket in a pinch.

Items remaining: brown jeans, skirt, official SWAP jacket and two tops.

Blouse No 3 is fitted with multiple vertical darts front and back, and a “V” neck trimmed with ruffles. From the Nov 08 issue of Lady Boutique, page 251. Another fitted blouse drafted this time using the angled bottom sloper. The magazine picture shows it made up in striped shirting fabric. I liked the use of striped menswear type shirting, for a fitted woman’s blouse with ruffles.
I felt confident enough about this blouse to skip the muslin. The front is rather clever, the outermost ruffle starts just above the waist on the right side, goes around the neck and back down the left front to end 4 inches above the right side. At the center front there is a band between the outer ruffle and the inner ruffle. It narrows to nothing as it approaches the shoulder seam. In the front, the band and the offsetting of the ruffles causes them to overlap from alternating sides and they lay fairly flat. Along the back neckline the two ruffles are sewn one on top of the other and they stand up. It is hard to describe, Hope the picture show it. I really like the blouse, though it might be a bit too frilly for some.

I have also completed a pair of teal wool gabardine pants from one drafted pattern and a pair of brown wool flannel from another. I will post on the "adventures" of pants pattern drafting and fitting later.

The proposed SWAP jacket is a basic style with princess seams and a collar (Oct 08 issue, page 237) This jacket is designed to accommodate removable fur trim, between the outer fabric and the facing, around the front edge. I wasn’t quite ready to mock up that detail in the wearable muslin. The fabric for the wearable muslin was a teal and black wool tweed. During the time I was planning the jacket, I read a couple of blogs where the writers were using silks from silk bundles.
Shannon to line a skirt and Renee to make ties for her friend. Post showing ties is on her old blogspot blog,which she did not replicate, sorry Inspired by them, I decided to use two pieces from my silk bundles, a teal gold stripe for piping, and gold jacquard for facings on the turn back cuffs. The jacket fronts butt up to each other which means the piping on the edges would be next to each other. I wanted the stripes on the center front piping to be mirror images of each other. To do that I had to cut strips of the striped fabric at 45 degree angles from both selvedge edges. So on one side the stripes went from left to right and the other from right to left. I assembled the bias strips so that the stripes were symmetrical around a seam that would be placed at the collar center back. I hand basted the piping to the garment front and collar to control the placement of the stripes and to prevent stretching, and then attached the facings.

I tried on the jacket bodice and it appeared to fit fine. But once I inserted the sleeves and tried it on again with shoulder pads. I discovered the shoulders were too wide and so was the back width between the armholes. Sure enough, in a comparison to a RTW jacket, the SWAP jacket shoulders was 1 inch wider and so was the back width.
I took the sleeves out, including sleeve heads (grr), moved the armholes in ½ inch on each side, and inserted the sleeves again. It was worth it. The jacket fits much better. But know I am not so sure it will be my SWAP jacket. The style just seems a little boring.

I hope to sew a this weekend, but Saturday I am assisting with a packing tape dress form double class for 10 members of our ASG Fashion Focus neighborhood group. It should be fun for me and hopefully worthwhile for the participants. I find my packing tape dress form double, Verite, invaluable for working out pattern fitting issues. She is my second custom dress form. Back in the early 80’s my mom wrapped me in plaster impregnated cheesecloth to create a dress form. And plaster releases heat as it cures. Hey mom, remember that? I think there are some pictures stored away somewhere. I had the same basic body shape (notice I did not say size), including the asymmetry, forward shoulders, etc. when I was in my 20’s; pre kids. So the theory that carrying kids on your hip, and a career spent hunching over computer keyboards changes your bone structure is not valid for me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Vogue 1087 Donna Karan Dress

I was working on pants pattern drafting and fitting for SWAP and needed a break . Okay, a bit of honesty here. I am not happy that the Christmas cookies I ate are still residing on my hips. So while I step up my exercise and decrease my food intake to dislodge the pesky things, I decided to sew something else. I had a whole pile of new Vogue patterns lying on my sewing table. Vogue 1087 was on top.

It is discribed as a fitted dress, below mid knee, with pleated and tucked front forming wrap effect. Front extends to back at sides, back with zipper and hemline vent. No side seams. My initial thoughts about this dress, while studying the picture on the front of the pattern envelope, was "what a neat dress, but is it wearable by the average woman?" Then I noticed that the dress has a fairly fitted bottom, like a pencil skirt, with long fabric extensions, straps with tucking and pleating, which crisscross the body and go over the shoulders forming an X shape. The eye follows the straps up and outward, or at least mine did, so I thought there might be a good chance that this dress would give an hourglass shape to my pear shaped one. And the recommend fabrics are stable knits, which are easy to sew. I have lots of this kind of knit, including a red piece donated from a friend that was reducing her stash (no preconceived plans for it and it didn’t cost me a thing ) And I have a Valentines day event coming up. All the justification I needed!

I verified flat pattern measurements and I pin fit the pattern on my paper tape dress form before cutting it out. I had to make a full center front piece to do this.
The draped/tucked pattern pieces looked pretty crinkled and messy, but it gave me a good idea of the construction and fitting issues. It showed me that the dress is truly fitted and that I needed to make a size 16 top/18 bottom combo.And that I was pushing the limit of the built in ease on the bottom.(those darn cookies again). I added some length to the bodice center back as I always do to any top pattern. And two inches in length at the skirt "lengthen/ shorten here" lines. The lengthen/shorten lines cut right through the seam for the center front piece which curves from center front to back hem, so I had to realign the curves using my curve sticks. Curve sticks are pattern drafting tools that have long gentle curves. Great for this kind of alteration, and crotch to knee seams when drafting pants.

The "Advanced" rating of this pattern is well deserved. There are so many matching marks, squares, little circles, big circles, and triangles on this multi size pattern. I resorted to coloring the ones I needed for my size. I had to reread the directions many times, study the pictures and do the folding on the pattern pieces before actually doing it on the fabric. The instructions were fine. It was just that the pattern pieces were so odd shaped and the pleating with hidden tack stiches so unfamiliar, it just took longer for my brain to process it all.

The issue that puzzled me the most was the front bodice pattern piece. This is a piece with the horizontal neckline that is under the crisscrossed straps. It has four darts in it for bust shaping and attaches to the side seam of the bodice back pieces. It hangs free in the center like one of those triangular modesty panels that you can put in a deep V neckline. The picture below is the dress on the dressform before the straps are draped over the bodice.
The paper pattern piece is full width, but I assumed it was symmetrical until I cut the interfacing and didn’t bother to make sure the pattern piece was face up on the non fusible side. It is not symmetrical. The two bust darts on one side have different dimensions and are different distances from each other.

One side seam is also ½ inch shorter than the other.

Now I could understand one short side for a dress like this where there is some asymmetry. The two strap pieces are different shapes and lengths, because one goes under the other. But I would think that on a pattern piece that has a horizontal neckline and is shaped around the bust, the bust points should be the same distance from the center line and from the top edge and the darts should create the same cup shape. Also the markings on the back side seam are the same for left and right and the instructions do not differentiate with text or pictures between the left and right sides. I puzzled over this for quite a while. Here is what I chose to do. I determined which side of the bodice piece matched the bodice back side seam (the LHS). I used that side of the pattern piece, putting the center line of the pattern along the fold of the fabric, to cut out symmetrical front bodice pieces. It seemed to work. I don’t know if this pattern piece is correct or not. I have sent a copy of the pattern piece and my questions to Vogue.

I finally got the dress together and the drapes/pleats actually look like the picture on the pattern. Only dislikes are the back darts are made to the outside, which doesn't seem to tie in with any other details of the dress. They poke out funny on me. I think I will resew them to the inside. And I think I will make a lining/slip of some red tricot for the skirt, attaching it to the waistline seam in the back and under all thr crisscrossing in the front.

I enjoyed the challenge. I think the dress turned out well and looks okay on me. I think it would look stunning on someone with a youthful hourglass figure.