Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sewing Goals for 2013

I'm a little late getting on the band wagon here but better late than never, right?

I've been sewing without a focus and thought perhaps that might not be the best use of my time. Like anything else, you accomplish more when you have concrete goals set. I'm not sure how concrete these will be but here goes....

The item of clothing I wear most in my closet are tee's. If I could have a barrage of TNT patterns in my arsenal for tops I could sew anything I could dream up and it would fit!

I need tee's with raglan, dolman and cut on sleeves in addition to traditional set-in sleeves. I also like to wear funnel neck tops in the winter with another layer over them. I'm not crazy about jewel necks but that might be a fit issue. I do like boat neck tops, v-necks and a modified scoop neck. If I had patterns with these issues worked out, it would be so easy to just whip one up!

I would also like to understand the stretch vs. fit issue. It would be nice to have patterns for knits with 25%, 50% and 75% stretch already in place so that fitting would be whittled down to a minimum. I plan to measure my favorite RTW garments then test against the percentage of stretch in the fabric and hopefully come up with separate blocks if you will.

So that's my plan for this year! I know it sounds simple but alterations on raglan and dolman sleeve tops confuse me. I have plenty of books to reference for that issue but until I actually do it - I know I won't understand.

I want to come up with necklines that I can just superimpose over the pattern. I'm starting at the basics and frequently RTW tops are too low. I don't care for that, after all - I don't have that much to show! LOL

Wish me luck! If I get these done maybe I'll work on pants!

Notes for Sewing One of Your First Garments

I've attempted to sew Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt, Style Arc's Ann T Top and drafted a pattern from my favorite RTW pajamas. Guess which one fit without alterations?

That's right - the self drafted pattern.

The other two were works in progress or wadders. However you look at it, there are a few things I could have done to assure success. I thought others who are just beginning to sew for themselves might like to learn from my mistakes!

This is an on going process and I will have success eventually but I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had done a few things first.

  1. I should have done more in depth tissue fitting before sewing the skirt and tee. A quick once over and thinking, "oh, that looks close" isn't enough! :)
  2. Comparing them to RTW I have in my closet would have given me a base to work off of.  
  3. It would have also helped if I had sewn the skirt with a zig-zag instead of the stretch (lll) stitch. That is going to be a bugger to rip and this isn't the final altered pattern.
I found I needed a reference because it had been so long since I had fit or sewn a pattern. I couldn't remember the sequence for trialing a pattern. Instead, I just sat at the sewing machine and went at it! LOL To be honest, I just wanted to sew something but in retrospect, that may not have been the right method to my madness!

The Style Arc top is drafted beautifully. All seams went together smoothly and if you've ever sewn with the Big 4 - you know that's not always the case. I love the pattern but there isn't enough ease for my tastes. It's skin tight and I like my tee's to be loose.

I have Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit and I should have looked at it before beginning to sew. Unfortunately, I can't just begin where I left off fifteen years ago because I've forgotten so much!

Her suggestions:
  1. Take flat pattern measurements.
  2. Do closet comparisons.
  3. Analyze how my favorites measure up.
  4. Do a simplified fitting shell if using the Big 4. (Simplified is my term and idea - it's not necessary to do the whole shell for my needs. For a simple tee, it's enough to do the shoulders, neckline, bust, waist and hip.)
  5. Make a pretest - aka muslin.
I think that might cut down on my attempts to fit a pattern! Duh! 

Have a great day! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Love Eileen Fisher - What Patterns Would be Similar?

I love how stylish Eileen Fisher's clothes are and would love to project that image. Most of her tops skim the body but aren't huge. The skirts and pants have a slim silhouette - at least for this year. She chooses luscious fabrics in neutral colors. A simple wardrobe would be easy to put together and would be a good SWAP 2013 for Stitchers Guild!

Can I find patterns that would be similar? I'm not sure but I'm going to try.

Look at the first top on this page. It has a boat neck and simply skims the body. Not too much ease in this but just enough in my estimation. It's  difficult to tell if it has raglan sleeves but I'm interested in copying the basic shape - it doesn't matter to me if it's exactly alike. Would you think Loes Hinse boat neck top would fit the bill? What about M6571 from McCall's? I'm looking at the neckline. The ER shirt looks to be a boxy tee so the side seams on the M6571 would have to be straightened.

Eileen Fisher's Fold Over Maxi Skirt in Viscose Jersey could be made following the instructions at Morning by Morning Productions. The skirt is a very good approximation.

Her bat wing top can be copied with Cation Designs free download of her dolman sleeve pattern. I might use V8688 also. Did you notice there are three bat wing tops on Fisher's site? They look different but all have those sleeves. Even the cardigan at the bottom of the page has bat wing sleeves. Speaking of which....

Eileen Fisher's Washable Wool Crepe Oval Long Cardigan is beautiful. It has the sides cut quite high and close fitting sleeves. Most patterns have enormous sleeves so you might want to plan on cutting those down for a better fit. The back is nicely rounded at the bottom to give good cover to a ...well, a bottom! Simplicity 1945 offers a cardigan with dolman sleeves and it also has a good rep on Pattern Review. Though not like the Oval Long Cardigan, it is similar and could work as an overlayer. You might want to lay the pattern over the bat wing top above to make sure it will layer before you cut into your nice fabric.

Edited to add: I'm not satisfied with the Simplicity cardigan for this capsule. I have quite a few waterfall cardigans already - one more would just muddy the waters!

Have you seen her poncho? I love it and would love to copy it to use as my bridging garment between the two capsules. I'm going to try it - will let you now how that turns out!

Her 25" Knee Length Pencil Skirt - how about Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt for that one? Sounds like a plan to me! Eileen's is made out of Viscose stretch ponte ie. rayon/lycra.

Her pants this season are slim fitting. What about Style Arc's Elle Pant?

Burda style 7793 is a loose fitting top with cut on short sleeves. A tank pattern is also included and would be good for a summer quasi Fisher top. Burda style 6869 view A is another top that could be used.


Fabrics are stretch silk, viscose (rayon), merino wool, organic cotton and linen mesh. I'm medium to large sized and the outfits would probably look more like their plus sized models. They look like regular sized women to me but I digress.

Colors would be black, grey and white. Now I just need to find a few of those striped scarves or make them myself out of the t-shirt fabric. Add belts and shoes as seen on the site and I'm good to go! (Found at a bargain price, I assure you!)

This page will be updated as I find more patterns.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pajama pants copied from RTW

I finally did it! I made something that fits exceptionally well, are super comfy and that I love! I copied my favortie pajama bottoms and made a pattern. The RTW pajama pants are made out of 2-way stretch cotton knit and my choice was to make them out of this comfy cotton knit that has a 4-way stretch. Have I told you that I love animal prints?

I tried various combinations of seams before sewing this fabric. My Singer Stylist has a stretch stitch that looks like this: lll. It works exceptionally well for this 4 way stretch fabric. At first my thread kept breaking but after changing the top and bobbin thread to Metrosene Plus, it worked like a dream. All seams were sewn with this stitch including the hems and waist area. I used 1/4" elastic for the waist which was also copied from the RTW pair. Just as a reminder, you have to make thin elastic about 1/3 smaller than the usual 1" waistband elastic.

When copying the pajama bottoms I was lucky that the fabric had a stripe running lengthwise. It made it easy when marking the straight of grain. I still had to true up the pattern but it was fairly easy after sewing the initial pair.

The difference in front and back crotch curve
Evidently when I traced the back waist area, I over stretched it. 
The finished pajama pants! A TNT pattern that I can use over and over.