Friday, August 31, 2012

Catching up

The problem when your hobbies have hobbies is that at some point something has to give. It wasn't enough that I started up sewing again, I had to start a blog to go along with it. I have done quite a bit of sewing over the last month, but not so much with the blogging. Let's see if I can summarize some of what I have done this month . . .

Sewing has really been a boon to my gift-making life. It is far easier to whip up something sewn than something knit. For a four year-old friend of ours, I wanted to borrow an idea I found on Pinterest. I saw these great, but pricey toy mats that converted to a bag that stores the toys. I use one of the great Japanese fabrics in my stash to make a puzzle mat/bag. I made a drawstring casing by finishing the edges with a strip of coordinating fabric. When the mat is open it is big enough to complete a small puzzle on. When you are done you can pull the drawstring closed to make a carrying nap sack.

A project that I have been thinking about for much of the summer was the Sunki dress for my niece's birthday next week. After much consideration, I choose a lovely polka dot from Lecien's Color Basic line as the main fabric and Martha Negley Farmington Feathers in pink for the contrast fabric. The project came together quickly once I had the fabric. The pockets were a bit tricky and I think I would make them a tad deeper next time. I would definitely make this dress again! I also made the leggings. It wasn't the disaster that I feared it would be. I need to work on my technique and hope the Craftsy class on working with knits that I am taking will help me improve. When I do, I am planning leggings for myself in every color I can think of!

Next week my little one will head off to his first away from home care! It's a new program nearby and parents have been helping get set-up. I offered to make several of the things they needed sewn--placemats, napkins, mat sheets, and  aprons. So far I have made a set of six placemats with table setting silhouettes, 12 napkins, and two sleeping mat sheets. I am using fabric that was already in my stash, with a little augmentation from fabric I got at a garage sale ($1 for a shopping bag filled with cottons) and a few yards I picked up at Broken Things for $6. This is just my first round, so I may attempt to put together a couple of tutorials. This project was great for my point system garnering me 6 points!

Wait, what? No Seam Allowance, you might ask. I have been working on some clothes for me, but will have to report in another post. The sewing machine calls.

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!