Monday, August 6, 2012

Made from scratch: Cal Patch study artifact 1

Armed with my measurements, I started my first project for my Cal Patch study as soon as August 1st rolled around. The first project is a basic A-line skirt that will form the basis for (hopefully) endless variations. The project only requires a few measurements: your waist (this doesn't have to be your waist, but where you want the skirt to sit), your widest part (hips or other), the distance between those two points, the length of the skirt, and how wide you want the skirt at the bottom.

When I took my measurements I made two waist measurements, one at my true waist (the smallest part of my waist) and one at my low waist (where I want garments to sit). I determined that a spot just below my belly button was the right spot for my low waist. This spot is personal preference and may change depending on the garment. It may even change during the project, but more on that later.

I followed Cal's directions very carefully. I drew lines and moved seams. I turned curves and trued up edges. Within an hour I nearly had the first pattern piece made up. Before things my brain went on the fritz I went to bed. The next day I finished both pattern pieces and prepped my fabric. I wanted to get sewing right away, but the fabric demanded (demanded, I tell you!) that I get a bright pink zipper to go with it, so the project sat for a day or two. Even though this was the muslin I wanted to give it a chance to be a wearable garment. Now wearable is in the eye of the beholder. The fabric itself was a $2 piece of lightweight canvas or linen with a very. loud. neon. print. I figured that if it worked out it could be an exciting skirt for a dreary day or even a sunny day.

At this point I had spent somewhere around three hours on this project. It might have been less, but I made an error in judgement when drafting the pattern pieces. Recently, I bought a Seam Allowance guide to aid me in adding seam allowance to Japanese patterns, so instead of adding the seam allowance to my pattern I thought I would just use this to cut it out. As it turns out I couldn't quite get the hang of it. Instead of fiddling with it even longer than I had been I laid out the pattern pieces and traced the shape adding the seam allowance as I went along. This also meant I had to work on the darts a little. Lesson learned, I will add the seam allowance next time!

I got my pink zipper and immediately got to work following the advice I read about muslins: baste! I basted the darts, got the zipper in and basted the seams. Voila! My muslin was ready to try on! The first thing I noticed was that I wasn't crazy about the waist both in terms of location and fit. The location was off by an inch or so. I actually like the skirt to cover my navel--ending right at the top edge of my belly button--which is much smaller and higher than where I had originally placed it. Cal has you work in some ease, but even if I had the skirt sit below my navel there was too much ease for me.

Since everything was basted, nothing was permanent so I went back and redrew the hip curve on the inside of the skirt. I moved the seams in 3/4" inch at the top. I also changed the distance between my smallest and largest points as I was moving the waist up. Baste! Baste! Tried it on again and it was still too big, so I moved it in another 1/2". This time I tried it on and it was perfect. I went over the seams, zipper, and darts with a regular stitch. I finished the waist with some bright pink bias tape and hemmed it. I now have a brand-new skirt made from scratch! I still want to add a patch pocket, probably just one though. This style skirt on me wouldn't take a side seam pocket very well.

I could add the changes to the existing pattern, but I think it will be a useful exercise for me to redraft the pattern using the new waist measurements. 

Helpful reminders for next time:
(1) Take the time to add the seam allowance!
(2) I noticed a funny little bump in the center front of the finished skirt. I don't think I did a great job truing up and checking for 90 degree angles. This was also evident at the hem.
(3) Since I know what I want my finished measurement to be I will not be adding in ease.

 Except for when I slept, I have been wearing this skirt since the moment it came off the sewing machine yesterday. I love it! I deem this a tremendous success. I can't wait to make another one (after a second muslin) from some printed linen I have been eying at Verb since the beginning of the summer!


    i love hearing your process and how you are working through it. you have exactly the right attitude!

    it's true that often skirts don't need any ease. it can vary depending on the fabric too; most have a bit of stretch even if they don't seem stretchy. also beware that the waist doesn't get stretched out in sewing, which often happens since it is slightly curved...

    but really i just want to say congratulations!

  2. Nicely done...congats! You are on your way! As a long time S&B listener, and one who has been sewing longer than I've been knitting, I'm enjoying the additional segments on sewing. I have Cal's book, and you are motivating me to give it a try. I have always used a pattern from the Big4 or an Indie designer, but it would be fun to start from scratch some time. I like that you've scheduled out your process, but I also think once you make a pattern/garment or two that it won't hurt to jump ahead to make the thing that is really calling to you!

  3. That is terrific. (and I love that cal is commenting on your posts :D)

  4. Nice work. I like that your "muslin" became wearable and that you proceeded to wear it all day.

  5. Looks really cute! I'm enjoying your blog very much after having been a fan of the podcast for so long.

    I too, am a knitter who is branching out into the mysteries of sewing. (When I have the motivation to get up off the couch that is.) Usually, I just have big dreams, but am so tired after work each day.

    Yardstogo inspires me to get off the couch and sew something! I have a purse almost completed. It will be done this weekend!

  6. Nicole I adore the podcast you guys do!!!
    You and Jenny are the result of many a pound/dollar spent on Amazon lol;)))
    I now have the Cal Patch book and I too am going to attempt the skirt tonight!!!
    Thanks for the continued inspiration ♥♥♥
    Best wishes