Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hemming 2017 choir dresses I misuse a new tool

They're back. As much as I think I know them cold, I learn something new every year.
Note how the side seams flare out. They are double layered (taffeta with a chiffon overlayer) and the skirts are slightly flared on the side seams. Some more than others.

The tiniest hem on one of them. Literally just turning the serged edge over and sewing.

Not nearly enough. I take thread out. I put thread in.

Their nasty disposition has not changed. God, was I drunk when I did this last year?
No. It hung out for another year on the bias seam (to the right of the safety pin).
They keep sagging and growing. Seven, eight years of sagging.

I do alter those side seams as they come in. I straighten and even them out (the skirts were cut from different sized flats and mismatched when sewn together. There were 80 of them, so I can understand the mayhem potential).

Bias seams grow.
I'd like to thank the Understanding the  Bias/tAming the Bias class I took on Pattern Review years ago for helping me understand how to deal with this.

The seams on the sides that are on the bias will stretch out with time because there's no strong warp thread holding them up (the grey rectangle area will remain the same length.

You can hang them out until they reach maximum growth, and then hem.

Ideally, you match the angle of bias (an incorrect term, but I'm kinda skimming the topic for the moment) to itself so it grows out evenly. 

But let's say you're making a lot of dresses and you're doing it all on the flat. And let's say you miscounted the sizes you were cutting, so at the end, you're sewing different sizes together to get your quota.

A fair number of these dresses have skirt A and B sewn together, and are trimmed to the shorter hem.

The two different skirt sizes sewn together (and hemmed the same) will not have the same bias angle cut on the seams and will twist. The blue line on the right will twist more because it has a greater angle difference. And will never ever ever hang straight and make me curse and rue the day I took this job until I cut that seam open, recut the angle to attempt a match and try to true them up to each other. As big a pain as that can be, it has paid off over the years I've spent with them. 

After I've cut and resewn, the inch in seam length difference isn't unusual. That's been fighting to drop, stuck against the other seam. It had to go somewhere. So yes, one side will grow more than the other, but it will happen anyway and when it's done, it will stay done.

I've been hanging these to get the chiffon layer even. Not effective on an adult flat hanger.

Using this child display half-front torso hanger has helped. As creepy as it is, it's effective. These are dresses for ten year old girls, who range in height but mostly are 24/25" around with narrow shoulders.

As for chiffon, the poly is easy to burn while I'm taking out last year's creases and putting in new ones.

Steam it up, and weigh it down to set it with the tailor board. Man, it took me a couple years to use this technique, and I cannot recommend it enough.

I hem them up, I let them down. Like the tide. An 5 or 8" hem is not unusual.

And then there's the new toy.

The line is actually red, but shows up pink in all these photos. 

So we have a new tool to add

A new alteration is to bring that right (wearer's left) shoulder and sleeve forward (this is the after photo)

I reduce the seam allowance on the back of the armsceye

And I widen it at the front
Which does turn that sleeve to the front
It's not enough to match her shoulder's inward curve, but it is as much as I can carve out of the present seam allowances to allow it to be altered BACK at the end of the season.
Because we'll be reusing these dresses again next year I'm sure.
Unless we really aren't. No promises.

I'm 34 in, 13 to go. A little behind my own deadline, but well in front of the official one. This does not even touch the new iron (wore out the steam button on the old one) or the usual back to school hubbub. Someone may be an Eagle Scout this time next week. But why not run that down to the wire? 
Isn't that what we do here?
And pardon me, but HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!
The first autumn not sewing costumes for anyone.
(cue the sad trombone).

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Instructions are the hardest part

The pattern is easy. 

Think about it: telling someone how to do something and assuming they have no prior knowledge of a thing is tough. It's very hard to assume they don't know what you already know.

This is a video from the reboot of the PBS kids show 'Zoom', where one kid tells another how to make a peanut butter sandwich, and the maker has to follow the instructions literally. They repeat this exercise several times.

How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
(once you get past the obligatory YouTube ad, the video cues up to the beginning of the skit)

Assume nothing.

I think the dean of instructions is still Ruth Wyeth Spears.
Her work may look familiar

Very familiar

She's not complaining about this, either.

Yes, I put this right in the middle on the back.

I've spent enough time with Japanese pattern books to know that you can get a lot done with a clear illustration. I have virtually no knowledge of Japanese kanji (I know the word 'kanji' though!) but I've made enough clothes to get what the diagrams are supposed to show me and in roughly what order.

Okay, so they're doing an one piece facing above, and separate facings below.
The instructions below are from 4411, identified as 
"Simplicity Primer - Guide for cutting - sewing - detailed dressmaking"
Yes, the words are useful, but do you even read these instructions anymore?

I'll admit it, I buy patterns for instructions. I can figure out most stuff, and I have to redraft so heavily to fit me, it's barely worth the tissue and tape to cut out a new one. More often than not, I graft details from one item to a TNT.

Love that shoulder pleat!

Literally, the trick is a pleat at the shoulder line on the front piece. Nothing more than that.

Unlike this classic, just reissued, that gave everyone fits a couple of years ago. 
Hint: must use knit fabric with loads of lengthwise stretch.
The Vintage Primer is pretty short. There isn't much to this pattern.

The pattern line is perfect, dammit. Stop screwing around with it! I can SEE you....

And then they show you how to mark your fabric. I don't think my mother ...ooh. She did. I just didn't listen.

Although I've heard a big brooch works best.

See, even how to put the damn thing on! This is what I'm talking about!

And then we get into Miyake terrritory.

How does this blouse go? It's all in the diagrams in the instructions.

Just try this without the instructions. Double dog dare you.
And to be honest, the instructions are "match marks and sew". The key is marking those marks properly the first time.

This is a working muslin (bedsheet)
I still haven't gotten it to fit me, too tight in one place and too loose in another.

Yes, I know: I'm as white as a blank piece of paper. It really does look good in person on me. Really.

image from Pattern Review

Now this Miyake 1309 needed instructions. The pattern pieces are a set of rectangles and squares.
The fabric was a handpainted muslin bolt someone gave me. It took about ten years to listen to what it wanted to be. And these are the pattern pieces.
Hint: label all the marks on the pieces with tape and a sharpie. I serged the edges first. I love this dress to bits, but I still have trouble recognizing which way is front, and that's with a tag marking which shoulder is the left one. I need a diagram, like S8452!

click on this to enlarge for the life instruction you should have been given years ago.
Never stop being careful! Keep hands clear of the blade!
Dress properly!
This is the manual for the table saw in my workshop. It's older than I am!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Miyake 2315 sleeve really has a dart

This one is for Pao.
Pattern just got here from Canada.

Yes, there's a dart in the middle of the top. Assuming it's to get the sleeve to not slide off the shoulder. Dart made, and then top folded for that fat seam effect.

And to locate this: the piece is at 0

And the dart is that wide centered at 13".
Or 33cm, for you metric folks

And that's the whole picture.

And there is is, not on a grid.
No cheating kids!