Made by Me!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bodice block pattern cutting course

I started my bodice block pattern cutting class at Raystitch yesterday. It was taught by the very lovely Alice who owns a bespoke clothing company nearby called Alice and Co. I would really recommend this course to anyone who gets put off by the mathematics of pattern cutting and drawing lines from point 1-2 etc.... This is how I did my skirt block and whilst it made total sense when someone took me through it this way was definitely a more fun and organic way of doing it. I call it a sort of freehand way of pattern cutting as it felt more fluid.

We basically took each other's measurements - why am I always much bigger than I think I am?! Then we chose a pattern size that was a close approximation but a little larger than our size from a basic block pattern, cut it out and sewed it up in calico. Then we obviously got the wine out as it's much easier to pattern cut with wine!!

The next part of the process was to make alterations on the bodice and sleeve with pins and pencil marks whilst we were wearing it until we felt comfortable with the fit - and I have to say I was amazed that the toiles were pretty accurate even at this first stage. We then transferred the pattern pieces on to dot and cross pattern paper and amended the sizing as went on to the paper. And voila a bodice block!! How easy!! We didn't even use rulers but just traced around them which meant it all took a lot less time than the other more 'correct' way of putting together a block. I think part of the difference is that Alice is self taught and at fashion antidote the teacher was a fashion graduate who was taught to do it commercially. It has been interesting trying it both ways.

The exciting thing is that there were only two of us in the class, weirdly both Sarah's!, and so it was a more of a one on one. We are a little ahead of ourselves so next week we will be shown simple manipulation and we are going to be bringing in pictures from magazines to make patterns from. I think I kind of like this top and want to try it is from the film 'The Help' and I apologise for the bad quality images but I took them on my iphone from the tele! Its a simple top but I just love the colours and the shape of the cowl neck and of course the little ties on the shoulder are super cute. So excited about next week! Learning new techniques is so much fun!! 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Fabric stores and impulsive buying...

I recently moved jobs to work in Islington in London and as yesterday was a slower day at the office I thought I would scout out the local fabric emporiums...which turned out to be a bad move as the excellent Raystitch is just five minutes walk down the road.... I came out of the shop having bought two cute Deer and Doe patterns - the Belladone dress and Daruta blouse.

Has anyone else used these patterns? I saw Paunnet had reviewed a couple and I checked out their website and fell in love with them. Can't wait to try them out! Think I may have to invest in the Anemone skirt too!

I did however buy these patterns with the promise to myself that I would use the stash thereby clearing some of the stacks of fabric which are getting out of control again!! I pulled out the cottons waiting to be cut into and thought maybe the spotty one which looks like paint splodges or roses for the top and the green one with peachy flowers for the dress..... What do you think? It's so hard to decide...

I also came out having bought two pattern cutting classes as well! That's a lot of spending in thirty minutes!! I am happy to say I have found a way to justify my exorbitance though. It's my birthday soon and I decided that it is acceptable to buy everything under the banner of treating myself for getting another year older! Plus I loved doing the skirt pattern cutting course and I was trying to find somewhere that was doing bodice and trouser classes. So really it was fate that I walked in there!! Yippee!!

Does anyone else go weak at the knees and wallet when you walk through the door of a haberdashery and fabric shop?? I feel like it's something I should get help for but I just find it much more therapeutic than clothes shopping any day. Thinking I could go back soon and browse the fabrics.... After all I do get a 10% discount for purchasing the classes.....Mmmm....

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Pattern Cutting - Making a Skirt Sloper Part 3

So its been a while posting the next segment but finally getting round to it! In this part you want to check that the sloper fits you accurately and to do this you need to make up the pattern pieces separately and then construct a toile in muslin. 

Firstly take a large section of your pattern paper - enough to be able to draw the length of both skirt sections on top of each other and the front skirt section out in full, in other words so that you don't have to cut the fabric out on a fold you draw the entire width of the front of the skirt on to the paper.

To start with we will tackle the front of the skirt. Put the pattern paper on its side and then in the middle of the paper take your meter stick or pattern master and draw a horizontal line along a set of dots to make sure its straight. The line should be long enough to cover the length of the skirt sloper.  Put an arrow on the line and this will be the centre line of the front of your skirt sloper and the grain line of the fabric when you cut your fabric out.I have done this in red so it shows up clearly.

Place your pattern paper on top of your skirt block drawing from the previous lesson and aligning the centre line weight down your pattern paper so it wont move. This is where the tracing wheel becomes useful. Moving the tracing wheel over each point mark off the corners of the sloper accurately, the top and bottom and the hip line - not all the way across but you will need to mark where it starts on the side with the hip curve. Mark the tops of the dart and the point of the dart with a cross, the centre of which becomes an accurate point. Carefully mark the curve of the hip and the curve of the top of the sloper freehand - take your time with this part! When you take the pattern paper off of the master block you will see you have lots of little indentations in the paper and all you need to do now is join the dots. You will now have the left face of the skirt sloper drawn out. Create a 1 cm seam allowance around the sloper - but not down the centre seam and a 3 cms seam allowance on to the hem. This can be done easily with either the markings on the pattern master as it has a seam allowance marker or you can use a ruler.

To make the right side simply fold down the centre line and then pin your paper together securely so that it will not move. When you are sure it is secure cut the sloper out.  Finally take your notchers and notch the hip line , the tops of the dart and the seam allowances in every directions. Then take your awl and pierce a hole at the point where the lines cross over at the bottom of the dart.

You are now ready to unpin and open the pattern piece up. You will now have a sloper that represents the full front of a skirt pattern. Doing it this way is good because you can check for any problems with curves being too deep and creating a slight v on the middle section of the waist line and it also means when you place your pattern on the fabric it is easier to prevent fabric waste.

Do exactly the same with the back pattern piece but as the seam runs up the middle back of the skirt you do not need to double the sloper up as we have with the front of the skirt.

Finally make sure you label each pattern piece with what it is - i.e. front skirt pattern piece, the size - in my case to my measurement and then how many pieces you need to cut in fabric.

You are now ready to cut your skirt out in your test fabric and sew the side seams and back seam up. When  you sew up the back do not sew past the hip line as this is the line where you would put a zip in if you were making the skirt for real, and if you sew it up you wont be able to try it on!

Once you have tried the toile on then pin the back to the correct seam allowance and assess the fit. You may need some help with this. Mine was practically correct I just had to shave a few millimetres from the hips as mine are more flat than rounded. Remember when you transfer changes from the paper it sometimes feels right to take more off or add more than is necessary. Try shaving or adding a few millimetres if the fit isn't too far off. The fit shouldn't be vastly different from your body shape as we are working from your measurements but like me we are all slightly different so a hip curve drawn on paper is nothing like mine in reality, so its likely you will need to alter some parts of the pattern. You should also be able to fit a couple of fingers in the waistline - this is the flexibility you need in a skirt to move freely and be able to eat. And you should be able to walk and sit down comfortably in it.

Transfer all alterations to the pattern with the seam allowance and make sure you cut down any areas as necessary or add a section if needed. If you are making a few changes you may wish to make a new toile to re-check the fit.

And finally when you are happy with the pattern pieces you will have your master pattern ready to go. In the next post  I will tell you how to transfer this on to card to make your master block and to make simple alterations to make different skirt patterns.

Finally fitting the Craftsy Starlet Jacket and a lovely little present!

So eventually after a little break I have managed to get back into the Craftsy course for Gertie's Starlet Jacket. I spent the weekend trying to get the body to fit correctly. After analysing my first attempt I felt I had overcomplicated it somehow and took all the pins out to work out where I felt the fit was a little wrong on me.

The front of the jacket seemed just fine but it was the upper to middle back section that was too big on me - and when I thought about it I had a similar problem on another couple of projects I had made last summer from Gertie's book. It seems that all her patterns come up too broad on the shoulder area for me and so I took in the princess seams on the back - at the top of the jacket by over a 1cm on each side, tapering the seam down towards the middle of my back to nothing. When I tried it on again it seemed to fit much better so with a little alteration of the original pattern pieces and with my fingers crossed I re-cut the fabric and sewed the pieces together again to make another toile. I think it has worked out this time.... albeit that the two back side pieces were too short - it seems altering the pattern pieces wasn't as easy as I thought. I had to add the extra length to the side back pattern pieces to make them the correct length so hopefully it should be ok. The slight hiccup has meant that the shape and grain line has changed ever so slightly on these pieces but they seem to fit much better than before so I am not going to tamper with them too much. Now I just have to sort the arms out!

On another note I had a lovely present through the post last week from a friend who I had gifted some knitting supplies to. I don't know about you but when I decide I want to take up a craft hobby I go a little loopy and buy everything - mostly things that far exceed my skill level!! I did this with jewellery design, quilting and also knitting! I did knit a couple of scarves which I gifted to friends and a successful snood dog which I wear all the time in winter from the brilliant Wool and the Gang but I just found moving on to the next level - well knitting anything other than scarves with big needles too slow and time consuming! Plus I realise that knitting patterns are a little like gobbledygook to me. When I started sewing whilst I may not have been great at it I understood it in a way that I just don't get with knitting - its like trying to read a foreign language. Sewing just came more naturally to me. So after not using any of my wool stash or the books I bought for soooo long I decided to give them to someone who could knit well and would actually use the supplies I bought. And she sent me this lovely hat as she knew that it was something I wanted to knit and frankly would never have been able to. How lovely!! It's super soft and warm too. I just wish it was colder outside so I could wear it more! Bring on winter.....

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A brilliant way to gather fabric...

Whilst on my pattern cutting course the tutor showed us a new way to gather fabric which I utilised on my Burda Style folk skirt - which made it a touch easier!  This may be something you are all aware of but if not here is a quick tutorial.

Sew a line of stitches the length of the area where you want the fabric to be gathered, making sure you secure the thread by sewing back and forth when you start stitching. Make the stitches slightly longer than your normal stitch length, this means the thread is a little looser than normal. I usually stitch at a 2.2mm length but use a 2.8mm stitch length when doing this.

When you come to the end of stitching the area you want to gather do not secure the threads by stitching backwards and forwards but leave a long tail on the threads when you cut them.

Take the length of excess thread and seperate them. Taking the lower thread gently pull on it and you will see the fabric gathering. Don't pull too hard as you may end up snapping the thread.

Push the gathers along the fabric as you go and you will see that within no time you have created some lovely, even gathering!