Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic
Monthly Archives: April 2012
April 18, 2012Posted by on
For a long time, I’ve told myself that I didn’t want to write a “learn how to sew” blog because I’ve always felt there are plenty of online resources for that type of thing, and I don’t want to bore my non-sewing readers. (I really love teaching someone to sew, but doing it in person is much more fun.)
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found that I enjoy leaving helpful hints here & there, and when I do, I get a lot of positive feedback from others in this Land of Blogging. (I sometimes forget that not everything I know is common knowledge to other sewists, because a lot of little things are just how my coworkers and I have always done it at work, and I don’t always remember where I picked the information up.)
Since so many of you seem to like the tips I’ve mentioned in the past, I thought I would start to include some short “sewing tips” posts on my blog periodically.
So today’s tip is one of the very first things I learned when I started sewing professionally: use safety pins for fittings instead of straight pins.
(Every costume shop and wardrobe crew has a HUGE box or two of safety pins because they are essentially disposable.)
For fittings, I like to use a pincushion that contains only safety pins (I personally prefer the standard #2 size pins). They are all pre-opened & stabbed into the pincushion so they can be grabbed one at a time with one hand, which saves tons of time during a fitting.
Using safety pins for fitting a mock-up or marking a minor clothing alteration (like a hem) has the added benefit of the pins not moving or falling out when the model removes the garment after the fitting. And, of course, the wearer can’t be poked with pins while undressing either.
Keeping the safety pins in a pincushion also helps with cleanup after the pins have been removed from the garment to make alterations – just open the safety pin, remove it from the fabric, and stick it back into the pincushion. There’s no need to reclose it, and it’s ready for next time. =)
If you ever have a sewing dilemma, feel free to leave a comment or ask me by email – I’d love to help out if I can!
April 15, 2012Posted by on
I have an irksome tendency when I make something – it has to match the picture I’m working from or I will spend forever and a day tweaking the pattern until it does.
Inner Perfectionist: It’s not quite right.
Lazy part of me: But it’s only off by an EIGHTH of an inch.
Perfectionist: Yes, but it’s off and it will drive me crazy!
Lazy: No one else will EVER notice.
Perfectionist: True, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t un-see it.
Lazy: FINE. I’ll fix it.
I know this makes me better at what I do, but there are times when I wish I could tune the perfectionist out and happily fly through my projects. (When I seriously try to ignore the inner perfectionist, my husband will nicely remind me that “You’d better fix it or it’s gonna bug you!” *sigh* He knows me well.)
So, anyway, you might remember that I chose the Ladies Wrap #0291 for my next assignment for The 1912 Project (honoring the 100th anniversary of the Titanic) because it looked fairly straightforward. However, it turned out to be one of those deceptively complex patterns that poked at the perfectionist in me.
The wrap has four darts, and their purpose is beautifully understated. Two are the shoulder seams, and two meet at the center front creating an almost horizontal line from bust point to bust point (but will be hidden by a collar on the finished garment).
These darts have perfect placement and are the textbook size for the 32-inch bust that the pattern is labeled as being – and because bust point measurement and shoulder seam measurement vary so slightly from size to size, the simple wrap style (a lapped front & open sides) can easily fit bust sizes ranging from 30 to 42.
Using a left-over piece of a bed-sheet from another project, I cut out a mock-up without any seam allowances. That meant the edges were right where the hem would be and I could check the overall fit & silhouette.
I tried the mock-up on myself, my sister and my mom. (I am smaller than the pattern’s 32” bust and my mom & my sister are both larger.)
Let me show you why the pattern needed tweaking…
I know I’m small but I have long arms – and the sleeves were way long, so it looked like I was wearing someone else’s clothes! The drape of the sleeve couldn’t hang gracefully with the arm raised & bent and didn’t match the design sketch, so of course, it completely BUGGED me.
It’s not terrible when I don’t bend my arms (it kind of reminds me of church-pageant angel sleeves) but I would look silly walking around with my arms out all the time!
So I took a poll on upper arm length. (Thank you soooo much to all of you who took the time to answer my one-question-survey!)
The results were quite interesting and confirmed my suspicions: upper arm length is not all that different from size to size, and I was right there at the average middle – 11 inches from shoulder joint to inside elbow.
I used a marker to draw new hem lines on the mock-up while trying to more closely match the sketch. For demonstration purposes, I only cut off the left sleeve.
I transferred the alterations to my paper pattern, tweaked the sleeve points, and shortened the body front & back lengths a little. (In order for me to construct the wrap in the special way I have planned, all the alterations needed to be precise before I make the real thing.)
For those who want to know specifics, I cut 2 inches from the sleeve length and adjusted the curve slightly to make the points less square (matching the sketch). I trimmed 1-3/8” off the front hem and a scant quarter-inch off the back hem.
Now that the pattern is fixed (and my inner Perfectionist can find some other project to obsess about), I’m ready to cut the real fabric and have some fun with construction… exactly 100 years to the day that the Titanic sank.
April 11, 2012Posted by on
Recently, I’ve been enjoying some random blog surfing and finding some interesting new blogs to follow. I’ve been inspired by many and glad to see so many others learning to sew or improving their skills.
The common theme right now seems to be people questioning their abilities and/or idiosyncrasies.
So here’s a little encouragement for all my fellow stitchers, seamstresses, costumers, sewists, seamsters, and crafters:
- Remember: you can’t will inspiration and you can’t force creativity (those who knew me in high school will recall this was one of “Brooke’s Rules”)
- You will always be your own worst critic.
- Being a perfectionist is how artist types are wired – trust me, it’s a normal side-effect of a creative brain, and I’ve never met a crafty person in the professional world who isn’t a perfectionist in some way. You aren’t weird. =)
- There will always be at least one little thing you wish you had time to do or fix when you have a deadline (even if it’s a self-imposed deadline!).
- There will almost always be a never-ending pile of unfinished projects and you will always want to add new projects to your list.
- When you get frustrated with a difficult project, put it down and walk away for a while.
- Everyone who sews, no matter how experienced, will need encouragement to stick with it periodically – being creative is HARD!
- You will learn at least one thing from every person you work with and from every project you do.
- There will always be those people who just don’t understand your need to create (but never forget there are plenty of others who completely get it!).
May your scissors always be sharp and all your thread stay tangle-free! Happy sewing & crafting!
And here’s a video I found inspiring, hope you do too:
April 1, 2012Posted by on
No joke, it’s April Fool’s Day and I need your “humerus” – measurement that is.
I’m working on my mock-up of the vintage wrap pattern I wrote about Friday, and I need some feedback from my female readers to make sure I make the most universal adjustment to the pattern.
I would like to take a casual poll to gather data on upper arm length (since arms are never included in general sewing measurement charts).
So grab a ruler and help me out! =)
Measure your upper arm from the shoulder joint to your inner elbow where your arm bends, like in this photo:
Then leave me a comment on this post or on Custom Style’s Facebook page with your measurement.
Thanks! I greatly appreciate your help!