Summer Dressing

I’ve been rewatching all of Peggy’s video broadcasts. In case you didn’t know it, I’m really a fan. I know I let go of some snark sometimes. I had a hard time understanding Peggy’s process and it’s not easy for me to implement.  Sizing is still a big problem for me.  I don’t think I’m measuring my clothes accurately. I do get excited when get something right. Like when I found my sleeveless template and sleeveless armscye measurement.  I have to remember that I’m fitting patterns with Peggy’s instructions but they aren’t Peggy’s patterns. Even Peggy says she won’t drape someone else’s patterns. That’s because she doesn’t know what they’ve done and so she is guessing at to fix.  My experience with the 906’s supports her statement. Point is, I’m coming around to being a big supporter and eve trying her method where perhaps I shouldn’t.  Anyway the recent videos I’m watching have been showing how easy it is to take a one of Peggy’s  top patterns which you’ve fit and make it into a dress.  I don’t wear a lot of dresses. My uniform is pants (long or short), plus a top (blouse, knit top) and a wrap (something to add when I too cold). But when the summer temps start hitting 98, 99 and +,  I want a dress. A dress can cover everything up while still being cool. With an open neckline, the air circulates through the hem all the way up to the neck.  Choose a cotton or rayon and the air can circulate right though the fabric. Dresses are my goto for really hot weather.

I’ve come to accept that I will not be making garments with only shoulder and side seams. Not if I want them to look nicely on me. Even with that limitation,  I’ve got 3 top patterns I’m in love with, the Tabula Rasa Jacket/Blouse, the Tabula Rasa Tee and princess seamed  B6299.  I just used the B6299 for a summer blouse and think it would be perfect for a summer dress.  This is a variation I will use sparingly but often enough I prefer to have a pattern.  First I trace  my 4 piece variation  front, back, side front, side back. I make a rough guess and add  20″ length to each piece.  It’s a guess because while I like a Maxi dress, I’ve discovered they are a hazard to me on stairs. What I make is between maxi and midi.  I measure a dress in the closet to find the hem circumference. Measure my pattern hem and subtract the seam allowances.  I decide I need to about 2″ with 6 seams that’s about 1/4″ so I add that to each piece.  I take a long ruler and draw a line from the 1/4″ just added at the hem up to the hip. Do that once for front and back, twice on each side piece.

Then I start the process of pulling fabrics off the shelf; and putting them back up. I have several prints I bought thinking of summer dresses. The first ones I pull down are knits. I’m not entirely satisfied with my knit version of B6299 so I put all them away. Plus I wonder if ITY will be all that cool. I don’t think the air penetrates and ITY the way it does a woven cotton or rayon.  I pull down a couple of prints and actually get one ironed when I realized it is a stripe. I don’t want to mess with stripes. Or plaids. My patience has been worn down working with 906. I want easy. I’m willing to work on the length and hem circumference issues nothing more challenging.  I pull out a butterfly print on a woven rayon. Press and lay out pattern pieces. I’m short by about 12″. 2 yards of 56″ wide fabric is not enough for B6299 dress. I find a crepe de shine press and lay out the fabrics. Before cutting, I wonder about its temperature factor. Will it be as warm as an ITY?  It seems to me that crepe de shines are not all that breathable. This is an elderly fabric. I’m sure it would be better as a long sleeve, winter blouse. I put it away and go back to my butterfly print.  I’ll have to piece. Will the print disguise the piecing? Can I piece artistically?

I’ve made this pattern (b6299) numerous times; the 4 piece version the most often. It is an easy sew, just takes a little longer for the extended seams.   I stitch together with confidence from having made it so many times before. The one thing I was concerned with was sufficient walking room and that turns out to be totally unimportant. This pattern may in fact be just a little big on me.  Initially it looked rather like a large sack.  I cut the neckline a little lower and added 10″ of elastic across the back.

No quite so sack like, but I’m not sure the back was significantly improved. I did like the front and side views (above).  Did you notice the piecing at all?

I pieced the center back. I drew a diagonal line on the center back pattern piece

Laid out my fabric and pattern piece, then placed my ruler so it extended 1/4″ past the diagonal line

folded my pattern up and out-of-the-way

Before carefully trimming away

It’s sort of a repeat for the bottom half except placing the ruler on the other side of the line and folding the top part down and out-of-the-way. I end up with 2 pieces (4 total)

Where are serged together with 1/4″ seams. I didn’t make or have to keep extra pieces, yet I still have an easy pattern if I want to piece the back again. I can see doing that for a vent and using a contrasting fabric. Eyelet springs to mind. Can you imagine how beautiful this would have been if I had a cream colored eyelet on hand?

 

6299 Ruffled Blouse

This is why I love basic blocks.  I wanted another coordinating blouse for the yellow shorts.   I like having coordinated wardrobe pieces rather than ‘sets’ i.e. the same  top and bottom always worn together.  So I look through the stash and find a fabric that looks really nice. This is a light-weight, cotton fabric purchased from Craftsy earlier this year. The truth is the new fabrics  are more than just current and beautiful. They are easier to handle. They drape differently and surprisingly need less fitting effort. I’ve already spent my money on the stash so I continue to attempt turning it into items of use. I always look for something in deep stash. I’m always relieved when only the new stuff will work for the current project.

After the fabric, I look through my Pinterest files for inspiration and find

Tada! It’s my 6299 with a ruffled collar and sleeve. 6299 was drafted as a sleeveless bodice. I have sleeveless down pat. I’m struggling with re-fitting 906. I want this to be easy. Simple. I opt for ditching the sleeve work. I pull out my pattern pieces and the button-front created for a previous version.  Once again, beauty of a TNT. Fitting: done; button front: done. Two biggies out-of-the-way. I decide that I do want a higher back. It’s really an easy change. I copy the back piece; extend the CB line up about 2″ and then using my french curve draw a line joining to the shoulder. Not a big deal. In fact to copy the back piece, I placed the previous piece on top of the tissue and cut around it excepting the neckline.

So last thing I need is the ruffles. Time for a little pattern work. I overlap the front and back along the shoulder seam allowances and trace the CB, neckline, and CF.  I cut that so it is 3.34″ deep, the same depth as the unsewn shoulder. That gives me a facing. I think hmmm. I might want this so I copy the facing. Along the outside edge of the copy, slash and spread 1/4″ in 10 different places. Secure that with a little tape and cut a copy of it which will become the 2nd and narrower ruffle. I play a little with the two ruffle patterns and decide that my 2nd ruffle should be trimmed to 2.5″

I finished the edge with a serger rolled hem.  I wasted over an hour trying to use the rolled hem foot of my machine. I should know better. But I had to try. This fabric this style just seem to call for the more delicate finish of the hemmed edge. I’m settling for the serger finished edge because it is reliably beautiful all the way around and all the way around both ruffles. Couldn’t satisfactorily finish more than 4″ using the little foot at the SM.

By now, sewing the blouse felt like simplicity itself. I was finished within 4 hours and that includes the pattern work and foolin’ around with the hemmer foot.

I finished the armscyes with commercial bias tape; folded and stitched to the inside.

I did one try on before machine blind hemming my blouse. I checked mostly for enough ease across the hip while close enough fit under the arms. Looking now, it might benefit from being a little closer fit but hey this is summer time. I like light-weight, loosely fit cotton blouses in the summer. Don’t you?

Really it’s just a nice summer blouse; fits well; in colors which flatter me and a print which speaks to my soul.

6299 6 Piece Blouse

I’m working my way up to making a maxi dress from a IMO particularly beautiful knit. I’m anxious about getting it right. So I made a blouse first.  Just to make this fun, I’m using a stripe, knit fabric I think from fabricmartfabrics.  My fabric is probably 6 years old and has  a flaw or two as well as a dirty  center fold.  I never trust the center fold to come clean; and there have  been times the fold remained even though the fabric cleaned up nicely. Even  repeated steaming may not remove the fold. If fact  I avoid cutting anything on the fold  as much as possible. If the pattern calls for ‘cutting on the fold’ I create a new fold on which to cut.  Well, moving on,  I think this is a cotton blend. Not sure if it has lycra or something else. It does have a 50% stretch- which was a bit worrying- and a curl that won’t quit.

I haven’t worked with stripes in a long time.  I pulled out the fabric and tried to  line up the stripes.  About 15 minutes later, I wadded it up; set  aside and pulled out tracing material. I don’t know why I even attempted to fold and align the stripes.  Really, once I’ve done the tissue work, it is quick to layout and cut not only stripes, but large prints and plaid.   I pulled out the top pieces of the 8-pattern piece version for B6299 and copied the back, side front and side backs. I  attached the tracing material along the CF edge and cut a mirror copy.

I took a look at the skirt pieces (a front and back) and realized that since I was cutting the larges size, they didn’t need to be trimmed. Concerned with having  enough ease I added a strip of tissue along the side seam and added 1.5″ just as I did for the bodice pieces way back when I started working with this pattern.

So the skirt is for a knee-length dress and I want a hip length blouse.  I measured against the blouse skirt pieces (the other half of the 8-piece set for 6299); measured up from the hem of these skirt pieces  12.5″ and marked a line. Then I folded up along that line.

I rather doubt I will ever want to make a knee-length dress. I could. I do; rarely. I do want a maxi dress from this very same pattern. When I’m ready to cut the maxi, I will fold the skirt pieces out flat and add  more length.

For now, pattern work done.

I laid out the pieces to cut the skirt with the stripe running vertically; the bodice with the stripe horizontally. As soon as I cut a pattern piece in fabric, I walked to the serger and serged all sides. The knit didn’t need finishing but the curl was beastly. To combat the curl, my construction procedure was  cut a piece, attach to previously cut piece; serge finish any raw edges. Repeat until all together. I basted the side seams at 1/2″ and tried it on.

 

One of the beauties of a TNT, is that even when some pattern changes are needed, the whole process is very quick.  I was ready for the first fitting in about 2 hours. I did not take pics of the first fitting. The pattern pieces I’m using were drafted for a woven fabric. Not surprisingly, the top looked too loose, especially  at the underarm; and it was just a tiny bit too long. I took up the shoulder seams 1/4″  and increased the side seam allowances to 3/4″. Except at the underarm where they were deepened to  1.25″.

I’ve noticed that the smaller the stripes, the better my stripe matching becomes. However I can’t complain about these. I really did not expect to be able to match the princess seams perfectly.  I’m most pleased that the stripes are level. I was afraid that they would be going up down around as they traveled across my curves.

I’m also please that I’ve avoided the ‘preggars’ (the appearance of a developing pregnancy that often occurs when wearing a empire style)

I had stitched the box pleat 2.5″ down from the empire. Later I tried the edge stitch the pleat to keep its crisp edge. I couldn’t stitch a straight line and didn’t want to go to the effort of WSS. I pulled out the stitched and pressed each pleat with max steam for close to a minute apiece. I’m hoping the creases are at least easy to find after my garment is laundered because that’s part of the ‘not preggars’ solution. The stitching and crisply pressed pleat help keep the skirt hugging my body instead of flaring. I suppose it helps that this not a light-weight knit. The heft of the knit helping to drag the skirt down instead of flaring.  (I almost didn’t use this fabric  thinking it would make a great winter top).

 

I’m looking forward to  another pattern variation  because I won’t want  the 5″ back box pleat nor the three 4″, front, box pleats  unless I’m making another maxi. I will  want a 1 piece skirt  back and 1 piece skirt front that fit smoothly with the upper bodice. Something that emulates CLD’s  Ebb pattern.  I think, though, I’m ready for the maxi dress in my dreams.

 

TRB with LH Cuff

I knew when I purchased this off the net (possibly fabricmartfabrics), that it would be a blouse, slightly oversized, with long sleeve. I love to make long sleeve blouses in multicolored prints.  I like to wear them over  T’s and Tanks for climate control, but also because I think the multicolored print pulls together i.e. finishes a look.  For that reason, I stitched this blouse with 3/8″ SA instead of the 1/2″ it was fit.  I want just a smidge more ease when I wear it as an over blouse.

I have several prints in my stash I want to use as blouses. I’ve been delaying making these blouses, for want of a perfect-fitting, sleeved blouse.  After my TNT review, I realized there was no need for further delay. I have the Tabula Rasa Jacket converted to blouse!

My change to the pattern was small. I marked where I wanted to shorten the blouse for use with a cuff. I calculated 1.25″ for the hem and another 1″ to offset not using a shoulder pad. Then I drafted my LH cuff which is nothing more than a rectangle 4X12″. The cuff would be easier to cut with a ruler. But  I forget a lot these days and even documenting in this blog doesn’t make small details easy to find. So I’ve started drafting these small easy to cut pieces to have a physical reference at hand in the future.

I’m calling this the LH cuff because I first saw it on Loes Hinse Tunic Blouse which I can no longer fit. The good news is that the cuff is simplicity itself. A rectangle sewn and overlapped at the seam line.  I overlap just the seam allowances. Mine are 1/4″.  No doubt my instructions aren’t enough for you to replicate. The pattern does have excellent instructions and I recommend its purchase. My fitting issues notwithstanding. After all, my fitting issues are due to my aging body not Loes draft.

I will be altering the cuff further. The 12″, even after seam allowances and turn of cloth, is too long. It will be 11″ long. Same width. I think the 4″ is good. The sleeve however is too long. I realize now my calculations did not accommodate the width of the cuff. I need to shorten the sleeve another 1.5″.  (I want the sleeve to blouse a little. So I want the cuff smaller than the sleeve and the sleeve a little longer than exactly enough.) For this blouse, I’m simply folding the cuff in half so it is visually 1″ wide

A few notes about the fabric. I believe that is cotton with Lycra. Certainly  Lycra for the stretch.  It is a crepe weave which makes it wonderfully drapey.  Interfacing is one of those things I really disagree with Peggy over. I think use of interfacing should be judicious; with a purpose. To listen to Peggy, you’d think it was a sin.  I did not want my front to drape. I wanted it blouse like.  I cut a wide front facing and fully interfaced it. I did use a very light weight interfacing.,Pro-Sheer  Elegance Light from Fashion Sewing Supply.

The print is small flowers in orange and yellow with a some green leaves and black dropped in wherever there aren’t flowers or leaves.  I think it will look better with my black based garments i.e. black pants, black and white printed blouse. Yet, I’m not entirely unhappy with it paired with the blues I was wearing in the pics

About the collar:

No it didn’t come with the TRJ pattern or any of the variation packages I’ve purchased.

I drafted it per Peggy’s instructions i.e. measure the neckline draw a rectangle the length of the neckline and desired width. I deliberately made my length 2″ shorter than the neckline.  I like a notched collar. I also made a pattern piece and marked the shoulder points on the pattern piece. I did however check out some of the collars in my possession. Based on them I curved the neck-edge portion of the collar from shoulder to front edge. I curved up just 1/4″. I interfaced the collar too. Same interfacing. I really do think collars and hems look better with a little interfacing. Not necessarily tailoring weft, but a light interfacing.

The one bad thing about this blouse is that I know I won’t be wearing it immediately.  I like to wear my sewn items fairly soon to check out the fit. I’ve noticed that fitting during sewing is only like 90% of the story. It’s that bit of what happens when I wear the garment that can be a killer. I’ve had fabrics that handle well during the 2-3 days of construction that drape and drag, just ugly by the midday of wearing.  Have you forgotten my complains in several of the last posts that my pants which were beautiful during fitting; photoed well several times during winter, but when I checked everything before putting away they had developed ugly X wrinkles. Can’t tell you how disappointed those were. But anyway, this blouse it pretty darn good. Into the closet it goes.

 

B6299, 4-Piece, Armscye Princess-Seam for Woven Fabrics

I am so pleased to present:

So I bombed with the Sateen 4-piece version; recovered somewhat with the Red Crinkle version, and now rethinking  a woven version of the 4-piece  B6299.    I’ve added 1/2″ to the side seams of the side front and side back pieces.  Then I acknowledged that I curve outward instead of inward at my front waist. After careful consideration, I left the back pieces alone, and  straightened,  made the front and side front less indented at the front waist:

I hope you can see where the arrows are pointing.  I’ve smoothed out  the curve less than 1/4″; closer to 1/8″.  I think it worked really well.

One other, I hope, minor change is that I also converted to one of my favorite styles for summer, the button front.

My fabric is a linen purchased some 8-10 years ago at  the now defunct Mill Ends in Sioux Falls SD.  I prefer blends i.e linen-silk, linen-cotton and my favorite linen-poly. Yes I like just a slight bit of poly. I think poly helps fabrics resist wrinkling and is often more comfortable because poly seems to add a little stretch but not as much as Lycra would. This is a heavy linen but very smooth.  I had only 1-1/4 yard. For a long time debated how to use this short yardage with the big print. My usage now  boiled down to wanting suitable fabrics for  sleeveless, summer patterns without adding  half or three-quarter yards to my remnants. The 1-1/4 yard,  52″wide fabric was perfect. I had mere scraps left over.

I lament that I used to be able to donate all such remnants to the Goodwill/St Thomas and other charities who could sell natural fibers for rags or as recycled fibers for mattresses and other goods. When last I asked, staff at the Goodwill had no idea what I was talking about. So I assume donated small yardages are no longer a valued commodity. 

I  bound the armscyes with bias tape and stitched the side seams. Was well on my way to turning up and hemming the bottom edge when I remembered that at the first (and only) fitting I had intended to deepen the princess curve right at the armscye. Left side is not as bad as right

but both could be a little better. I absolutely must tweak the right side more to conform with my bodily curves and lower right shoulder.  Must remember/write myself a note: Princess seams especially on right side need to be 1/8-1/4″ deeper.

I thought the 1/2″ I added to the seams would be too much ease. As a minimum, I thought I would need to sew the side-seam allowance deeper at the underarm. But on me, my blouse feels great with all that ‘extra’ ease.

I like the B6299, 4- piece adaptation really well. I like it better than the Tabula Rasa Vest/sleeveless top. It is important that I mark the notches on the princess seams; and there are additional seams that the typical tank top doesn’t have. But, this  style looks so much better on me and  it is fast to sew. Not as fast as 2 side seams. But faster than marking and sewing the darts I would need. It’s well worth whatever extra effort I need to make for the 4-piece pattern. This is my new TNT sleeveless tank top pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Front Blouse

I purchased this fabric earlier this year from Craftsy. It was called Italian Floral Woven.100% polyester.  It does not feel like polyester. Crepe weave. Light. Drapes like a gorgeous rayon crepe. It’s called ‘Italian’ but it definitely reminds me of Indian fabric printing blocks.  When I purchased I didn’t know if I was making a blouse, a dress or what. A skirt would be stunning in this fabric and print.

Last night it told me what to do.  I pulled out my TNT  Tabula Rasa Jacket to make  a light weight layer for those cold places I find myself in. I planned for navy-blue, bias-tape,  front finish with a button about waist height. I didn’t want to put a buttonhole in  this fabric. But realized quickly my second choice of a hair-band button-loop wasn’t going to work either. It was too heavy. I ended up binding the front and neckline and allowing it to drape.  I may go back and add front ties. Not sure.

Because the pattern is already fit, this was super quick to sew. I had it cut and photographed in about 3 hours.  The only issue was that the fabric wanted to ravel.  I stopped during applying the bias tape along the front band to apply Frey  Check along the whole edge.

I top stitched 1.25″ deep hems for the sleeves and lower edge.  I like the weight that a hem adds.

I may want to hem the sleeves a little higher or even cut off an inch and rehem. I had forgotten that myTRJ pattern is fit for 1/2″ shoulder pads. Without the pads and with this fabric, the sleeves are a bit long.

This jacket demonstrates why I love TNTs. I created a lovely garment in mere hours. Spent most of my thought solving creative problems – like comparing 3 shades of bias tape to pick the best.

An important waste of time

I’m looking for seams other than the typical shoulder and side seams.  I know I cannot get the fit I want when only using those seams. I’ve been wondering if a raglan style would be an easy fitting choice for me. Could I somehow pinch along the raglan line to create the fit I desire?

With that in mind, I bought Jalie 3245.  Jalie is famous for their RTW fit. Well RTW doesn’t fit me, but Jalie pants are dang good.I hoped for the same luck with a Jalie top pattern.

I made not 1 but 2 muslins. I used knit fabrics  with about 30% stretch, just as the pattern specified. My bust size is between y and z  but much larger at hip and waist.   I opted to use size Z for the first muslin and add 1.5″ to the side seams. During the 5 fittings,  I kept taking in and taking in and taking in. Side seams, sleeve seams even the CB seam that I added when making my 5/8″ RBA. Finally  I said “Peggy is right. When the muslin is just too big it’s easier to start over”.

So I traced size X. Added 1/2″ at the underarm 1.5″ for waist and hips.  I keep forgetting that draping does not mean ignoring my known figure variations. I absolutely am still short-waisted; still narrow shouldered. This time I made the 5/8″ RBA, added the center back seam with an SA of 1/4″ and also did a 1″ BWL.  I was not sure how to apply an NSA and planned to create a dart at the shoulder during fitting

Size X fits across the shoulder and upper chest. No dart needed for my narrow shoulders.  However it’s  too tight  at the bust, the back and hip and like a tourniquet across the biceps. I was really surprised. I went back and rechecked the two fabrics for stretch. Nope both are  about 30% – more like 32, 33%.There is maybe 1/8″ difference between sizes of the  raglan; about 1/4″ in the body of the garment.

Muslin 2 should not have been this tight.  The fabrics are similar. The sizing is not that greatly different.  So what’s  causing the huge change in ease?  I let out the side seams of Muslin 2 which added 1″ ease. Felt it mostly in the stomach and hip; I cut the sleeve along the midline and added a strip of fabric adding about 5/8″ ease to both sleeves. They felt more comfortable but would have require more.

So I said to myself,  what does need to be done?  I think I need each body and sleeve piece to be 2 pieces when cutting. I would have a total of 8 pieces to sew together and that more seams to tweak during fitting. I would need to add at least an inch ease to each piece.  Then I could  pinch all seams making closer fit as needed.  OK that would give me all the circumference that I need.  Then I would need to work on the armscye:

There is lots of fabric pooling along the sleeve side of the raglan. I wasn’t sure what to do on Muslin 1, where I had way too much ease.  A fisheye dart in the direction of the fold  had no effect. Darting from raglan seam 3″ into the interior helped some but how do I put that dart into the sleeve pattern? And do I want to?  Do I want to sew a dart every time? Could it be moved? Yuk I couldn’t imagine making the neckline even more angled than it is. How do you move the dart to the bottom of the armscye? Can you?

Muslin 1 had too much ease. Was that the problem?  No because the ease I added to Muslin 2 so the bicep would better also formed those folds:

Whoa! Wait!  The point of this exercise was to see if a raglan style would be easy to fit. I’ve now spent 2 days and still have no idea how to introduce the roundness I need right where I need it. Time to say: Goal Achieved.  I know this will not be easy.  I can tackle this again when I feel like taking on a big challenge. Or, I can axe raglans from my sewing repertoire.

So this was a waste of time from the standpoint that I don’t have a wearable garment nor a usable pattern. But it was important that I take this journey so that I know raglans will NOT be an easy fit.

The one catch?  I have a raglan sweater I bought from Walmart that looks like it was custom knit for me. It fits beautifully. I’ll always wonder if I could achieve the same fit at home.