Hi, I hope you’re enjoying your summer – or whatever season is happening in your part of the world! We’ve had some warm weather this month in California, too warm in some parts of the state but great weather for sleeveless dresses and strappy sandals.
Earlier this month, I had a lot of fun at a Bay Area Sewists meetup on adjusting patterns. We met in the spacious, well-lit classroom space of Lacis in Berkeley. We were fortunate to have in attendance a member, Kathleen (a technical designer for Old Navy), who enjoys fitting and adjusting patterns for herself and her friends. She explained to us how we should always look at how each change affects the overall balance of a garment.
The pattern changes I usually make are a small bust adjustment, wide shoulder adjustment, and grading up in the hips. What pattern adjustments do you usually make?
I admit that I don’t usually pay much attention to the back. But I did make a pattern adjustment to the back of the sleeveless dress I made for Spring for Cotton. It was gaping a little in the back neckline so I had to bring it in slightly. I just happened to notice the gaping in the mirror when I tried on my muslin.
Kathleen made me realize how important it is to make incremental pattern adjustments. I saw first-hand how adjustments to the back can affect the front.
I brought the muslin I made several months ago for this vintage Vogue pattern. I searched my blog to figure out when I started this muslin. I think I made the muslin last December and I traced the pattern in October. Wow – how time flies!
This is a dress for knit fabrics and I have some lovely wool jersey from Britex Fabrics to make it. I used this brown synthetic jersey fabric I had in my stash. I think I got it at Discount Fabrics in Berkeley about four or five years ago with the intention of making an Alabama Chanin garment.
This pattern has princess seams so my automatic response was, oh, I can make the bust fit better by bringing in the princess seams – an easy adjustment. There are four pattern pieces for the front – two front center and two side front. The back has two side back and two center back pieces. I’m going to color block this dress using a rose and a black wool jersey.
Here’s a photo I took at the end of Dec. It’s a bit loose in the bust area. The only adjustment I made to the pattern was to lower the armholes, which seemed a bit high.
Kathleen’s first adjustments to my muslin were to the back. This pattern has a center back zip – try to ignore the sloppy construction – I installed the zip but didn’t bother stabilizing it (lazy!). I confess I didn’t really look at the back when I sewed this up. As you can see, Kathleen pinned two areas on the back. The top adjustment was quite small 1/8 inch at the zip and taping off into the shoulder area. The mid-back adjustment goes across two pattern pieces – center back and side back.
And voila! The front left (my right) fits perfectly as a result of the back adjustment. This was like magic. Then I’ll add to the front what was subtracted from the back.
Kathleen transferred the adjustments to the pattern. She likes to fold the pattern – as opposed to cutting it – to make these adjustments. I like this idea because you can easily undo the adjustment. Just remove the tape. In the photo below, she folded the pattern for the top adjustment near the neck.
Here’s Kathleen pinning adjustments to someone else’s garment…
… and transferring them to the pattern pieces.
If you don’t have anyone handy to pin your garment or someone who really wouldn’t know what to do with a pin other than poke you, Kathleen suggests asking them to take photos of you wearing your muslin. Take photos of the front, back, and sides. Then you can at least look at the photos and see where you can make adjustments. If you don’t have a friend or partner handy, you can always use the timer on your camera 😉 As you make your adjustments, take photos of all sides to see how they affect the garment overall.
While we were at Lacis, Jules Kliot, the owner of Lacis, stopped by and invited us to have a sneak preview of Lacis’s beautiful September exhibit on netting and filet lace. It’s quite stunning. The netting on view are works of art created by netting and embroidery on the netting, which is created by knots similar to the technique used to create fish nets (read more about filet lace here).
You can see a slide show of the exhibit here. The show opens on Sept. 26 and will be on view until Sept. 3, 2016 – nearly a year so if you live in the Bay Area you’ll have plenty of time to check it out.
I hope you’re enjoying some spring sewing! Have you sewed any eyelet fabric? If you have any tips, please pass them on. This was my first experience sewing with it.
A few days ago, I finished the dress I made for Lucky Lucille’s Spring for Cotton sewalong. The challenge was to make something from a vintage or vintage-inspired pattern using 100 percent cotton fabric. I went through my small stash of vintage patterns decided to make a sleeveless dress. This pattern was for a 36 bust, 28 waist, and 38 hips. I added a lining to my version.
My waist and hips are bigger than the pattern (especially because I’ve gained about ten pounds since last year – the result of a busy job and not making time to exercise). My waist is about 30.5 inches (77.5 cm) and my hips 41 inches (104 cm). I made most of my adjustments before I cut my muslin, which you can read about in my post WIP: a Vintage Dress Pattern and Japanese Top. Here’s my brief summary of the flat pattern adjustments before I made my muslin:
1/4″ small bust adjustment,
dropped armhole 1 inch,
added 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) to side seams of front and back bodice (total of 2 inches),
added 1/2 inch to skirt waist
added 3/4 inch to hip area.
Here’s what my muslin looked like (pardon the bad bathroom lighting). I decided to leave off the pocket detail because I didn’t really like it on me. They were decorative anyway, not actual pockets.
At first glance it looked like it fit quite well and I thought, great, now I can cut my fashion fabric. But when I turned around and looked at the back, I could see that there was a little gaping of the back neckline, which is a bit of a scoop neck that’s lower than the front neckline. Hmmmm. I had not encountered this issue before. But I hadn’t made a dress with a scoop back neckline either.
So I went online to see what pattern adjustment to make – and stumbled across Ginger Makes post: By Hand London Anna Dress: Back Neckline Adjustment. I don’t have narrow shoulders so this was the first-time pattern adjustment for me. Before I did anything to my pattern, I took off my muslin, pinched in where I thought most of the gaping occurred, then pinned it in pace with safety pins. I guess that 1/4-inch (slightly less than 1 cm) would do the trick.
Back bodice – pinned.
I tried it on again and it looked good (sorry I didn’t take a photo of that), so I decided to skip making another muslin. I made a 1/4″ flat pattern adjustment, following Ginger Makes’ clear instructions. It was easy – just draw a line from the armhole to the area that gapes the most, cut along that line and overlap 1/4″. The point turner is where I sliced the pattern and overlapped it 1/4 inch. to see a larger version of this photo, click on it once and it will open another window, then click on the photo again, you’ll see a large version.
Then I did a bit of a reality check, tried on the muslin one last time and realized that the waist needed a little more ease. So I added another 1/4-inch (.6 cm) to the waist of the bodice and skirt, crossed my fingers, and began cutting my fashion fabric.
Meanwhile, I also did a muslin of the jacket but decided I didn’t like the boxy shape. So I didn’t make it.
The challenge of making this dress is that I was using eyelet fabric for the first time and lining the entire dress with a contrast fabric. Here’s an image I posted on Instagram when I was shopping for my fabric at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics for this dress.
I chose the hot pink fabric for the color – more like a fuchsia – rather than its weight, which was quilt weight. I didn’t think it would make the dress layers too thick because the eyelet fabric was lightweight and had a bit of drape to it. So I thought they would balance each other out. As a general rule though, it’s better to match the drape/weight of the fabrics you’re sewing together. In retrospect, it would have been better to choose a lining fabric that was lighter weight as you’ll see below. But the challenge of this sewalong was to use 100 percent cotton and I liked this color so I went with it.
3 1/2 yards eyelet fabric [amount for dress and jacket, which I didn’t make]
3 yards of lining fabric
1 1/4 yards of 3/4-inch ban-rol waistband interfacing
As I began sewing this dress, I realized I needed to figure out if I would sew my hot pink lining fabric as lining or underlining. (For a good explanation of underlining, see Seamstress Erin’s post When to Underline your Sewing.) I decided that it would depend on the effect on the eyelet – and how thick the fabric would be. So the bodice was sewn as lining and parts of the skirt were sewn as lining and underlining.
I decided that the darts could all be sewn separately, rather than sewing the lining fabric together with the fashion fabric. so I sewed the all the darts first. Four in the front bodice…
two in the back bodice…
and four in the skirt back. This is one side of the skirt back, which has a center seam and kick pleat.
I also got a nice tip via Instagram from @sewbrooke, who blogs at Custom Style. She told me if the fabric seemed thick, I could press the darts one way for the lining and another way for the fashion fabric to take care of any bulk. I took her advice.
The directions called for cutting the darts and pressing them open, which I had not seen before. I posted that photo on my IG feed (@csews) and asked if I needed to do this. Brooke said that this is often done in menswear and more necessary with a suiting or wool fabric. So I just pressed my darts.
However, the pleats in the front needed to be sewn with both fabrics sandwiched together. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see any of the pink through the eyelet.
As you can see here, the darts are slim enough that you don’t really notice that there isn’t any pink behind them. The pleats are a bit thick – something I hadn’t thought about when I bought my lining fabric. (I forgot to make a loop to hold down the end of the belt but I did make one the next day so I had it on when I wore the dress to work on Friday. It doesn’t stick out anymore.)
I sewed my bodice pieces, following the instructions in How to Line a Sleeveless Dress from Blithe Stitches, a tutorial I used when I made a dress a couple of years ago. This dress has a side zipper. I left open the area just below the left armhole.
The skirt got a little tricky. I had to figure out how to sew the kick pleat in the back with the lining. The instructions direct you to first sew the two back skirt pieces together with 5/8″ seam allowance, and then sew the center back seam, which is about three inches in from the other seam. You then fold over this three-inch bit of fabric to one side and sew it together when you attach the bodice to the skirt. This center back seam runs about 2/3 of the skirt length. The area below the center back seam forms the kick pleat. I improvised as I figured out how to sew the kick pleat with the eyelet and lining fabrics. (I cut my eyelet fabric perpendicular to the grain so I could use the scalloped edge of the selvage as my hem. The dress hem is a straight edge, not a curved one, which makes it possible to do this.)
I skipped the first seam with the 5/8″ seam allowance and just sewed the center back seam, leaving the area below the pattern mark open.
Then I sewed the center back seam of the eyelet fabric and pinned it to the waist of the lining fabric. Clearly, the dress would be too thick around the waist – six layers of fabric (kick pleat adds another two layers) – so I cut the fashion fabric above the pleat with my pinking scissors, close to the seam line. I didn’t trim the lining fabric.
Then I placed the lining fabric on top of the eyelet fabric and sewed the 5/8″ seam. Here’s a detail of the kick pleat before sewing the 5/8″ seam.
After I finished sewing the kick pleat, I was ready to sew the skirt side seams. I sewed the lining and the eyelet fabric together at the side seams. It was hard to line up the eyelet across the seam. I began at the bottom so I would be sure that the eyelet lined up at that scalloped edge. I pinned and eased as much as possible but it was all slightly off on the side seams. I decided to let that go and not get stressed out about it. I’m not sure what made it tricky – maybe because I cut the fabric against the grain or that the embroidery of the eyelet distorts the fabric slightly so things are slightly off? I didn’t use any stabilizer so maybe that would have helped.
Here’s what it looks like completed. The seam in the center is that 5/8″ seam I mentioned above.
But you really don’t see that seam in the back pleat. Without the pleat, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to walk in this dress.
I attached the bodice to the skirt (note the zipper tape on the right). The waist seam is really thick – four layers of fabric and even more where the front pleats are. If I had to do this again, I would have picked a much lighter weight lining fabric. And I would add more ease in the hips. It’s not that it’s tight there but when I sit down, there’s small pool of fabric in my lap, which doesn’t look very good.
And here’s another photo of the finished dress!
I really love the colors! I think I’ll do another post on accessories for this dress – the belt and fascinator. I was going to include info on making the belt and fascinator but it’s getting really long so I’ll save that for another day! Thanks for visiting and happy sewing!
If you like hats, even if you only wear one a few times a year, you don’t want it to blow off your head on a windy day. Nothing’s worse than chasing your hat down the sidewalk or watching it drift into traffic (yes, that’s happened to me). To keep your hat on your head, you can attach a thin elastic cord made specifically for hats – like I did on this velvet and linen vintage hat (pictured above), which I got at All Things Vintage in Oakland. (The lovely ladies there sell beautiful vintage hats and they actually gave me a hat elastic so I didn’t have to buy one.)
Here’s what one looks like.
These elastics are 11 or 12 inches (28 to 30.5 cm) long and have small metal barbs at the ends, which lets you secure it to the inside of the hat. You can buy them at Lacis in black, white or beige for 45 cents each at their retail store in Berkeley or online on this page (scroll down until you see “Hat Cord” 12″) on their website. (You can also buy 11-inch ones ( 12 for $6.50) online at Judith M Millinery Supply House on this page: 11-inch hat elastics.) Choose the color that will blend in best with your hair color.
You can also make your own hat elastic by buying elastic cord in pre-cut packages or by the yard at a fabric store or online. I got a couple of yards of this black elastic for 30 cents a yard at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. It’s about 2 mm thick.
Cut it to the length you need, insert it into the hat and knot it at the ends where the metal barbs would be on the pre-made hat elastics. But you need a big knot to make sure it stays in place. You can also knot the ends around a small bit of wire, which will do a better job of keeping the elastic from slipping off. (I wrote a post about this in 2012. Back then I didn’t know where you could buy hat elastics so I made my own.)
The pre-made hat elastics are primarily for “fitting” hats – hats with a crown that comes down near your ears. If you have a “sitting” hat, such as a pillbox, which sits on the top of your head, the pre-made elastic won’t be long enough so you may either want to make your own or explore using a hat pin or clip to keep it on your head. I’m not sure how a long elastic would look; I think that depends on how much your hair hides the elastic.
To insert the elastic, you need to make two small holes in the ribbon (usually Petersham – or millinery grosgrain) inside the hat. Most hats will have this ribbon, which operates as a sweatband, preventing perspiration and oil from staining the hat.
The elastic goes underneath your hair, not under your chin, so the holes should be made in the ribbon at the midpoint of each side of the hat near your ears. The elastic will go behind your ears so you want to place the holes slightly closer to the back of the hat.
I’ve used a large needle to make my initial hole and then taken the point of my small pair of embroidery scissors to make the hole large enough to slide the elastic through. As you can see this hat came with combs inside but I don’t like using them. You can see my hat elastic.
And here’s a close up shot.
And here’s a shot of the hat, which I love.
UPDATE: I posted a photo from this post on my Instagram account (@csews) and @_sarawaters commented that she read this post but couldn’t picture how te elastic helps keep it on your head. So this update is for you Sara!
Where does the hat elastic go? It goes under your hair in the back. When my hair was longer, I just put the hat on my head with the elastic hanging down in the back and pulled my pony tail through. Or you can grab your hair, put the elastic under it and put the hat on your head.
I’m wore the black vintage hat in this photo. You can’t see the elastic here but it’s going from the crown of the hat and under my pony tail. (I’m wearing my red Anna Dress in this photo. You can read about that dress in this post: Finished: My Red Anna Dress.)
You can sort of see it in this photo – the elastic is that thin black line going from the velvet loop at the brim and goes down at a slight angle.
I also wore this hat with the first Anna Dress I made. It was windy that day as you can see from the photo but the elastic did the job. My hat did not fly away! If you have very short hair, shorter than chin length, I’m not sure if the hat elastic will stay down because you may not have enough hair to keep it in place; it might ride up the back of your head and then the hat will fall off. Hat elastics are probably best suited for hair that’s no shorter than chin length which is my current length. I purposely didn’t go any shorter because then I wouldn’t be able to wear a lot of my vintage hats. 😉
I love fabric-covered belt buckles! So when I saw this kit at Lacis in Berkeley, I bought it right away. I had only seen some vintage buckle kits at second-hand places. If you don’t live in the Bay Area, you can order this kit and other styles and sizes (square, circle, rectangle) from Lacis’s online catalog. Just go to this page and type in “hand cover buckle” into the search field and several buckle styles will appear. (Prices range from $3.20 to $9.)
It’s very easy to cover a buckle with this kit. However, I think it works best with lighter weight fabrics. My fabric was medium weight cotton and going around the corners was a little tricky. The metal of the buckle is very light and easily dented so be gentle!
Here’s what you’ll find inside once you open the kit: two buckle pieces (fabric goes over the larger piece and the other piece fits inside the back, holding the fabric in place); the metal prong goes into the belt holes/eyelets; and that white thing is a double-sided piece of adhesive that you stick to the fabric.
Instructions are on the back of the kit. You remove the center part and then peel off one side of the double-sided sticker and place it on your fabric. I placed my sticker on the bias so it would go around the curves more easily.
Then I cut around it and removed the remaining bit of paper, revealing the second sticky side, which goes over the buckle.
Then I placed the buckle in the dead center of this piece of fabric, clipped the inside corners, and began sticking the fabric to the buckle. I began with the corners and stuck them down. I didn’t think about clipping the curves until I stuck the corners down. Oops. Note: clip your corners so the fabric isn’t so thick in those areas.
Then I went around the edges and stuck the fabric to the buckle like so.
After that’s done, you put the other buckle piece on top of the fabric-covered one…
and then you put the circular part of the metal prong in the center and use pliers to close it and you’re done!
I bought a yard of cotton/rayon Petersham ribbon for the belt. It’s rather thick, which was perfect for my purposes. And I loved the royal blue color. A couple of years ago I got this Dritz plier kit (on sale!) to install eyelets and snaps but I never used it. So I finally took it out of its packaging, discovered that it came with a few blue eyelets, which I then installed on the ribbon, about an inch apart from each other.
It’s pretty easy to use. Just mark where you want the eyelets to go, use the pliers to punch a hole, place the eyelet on the pliers and then put it over the hole and squeeze the handles.
I was nervous I was going to screw it up but I just took a deep breath and squeezed and it worked! And in case you’re wondering, here’s how I finished the belt…
which then needed a snap installed to keep it from flopping down because of the added weight of the folds on the end.
Have you made a fabric-covered belt buckle before? I made one once but I was totally fudging it. It looked fine on the outside but it was a total mess on the other side. I just cut some fabric and hand sewed it on the back – thus the mess.
On April 19 Bay Area Sewists met at Lacis‘s classroom space in Berkeley for Meetup No. 3 this year! Not everyone who came is in the photo because I forgot to take the photo while everyone was still there.
We had a lot of fun seeing what everyone made. I took some photos – unfortunately, I didn’t capture everything because I was so busy looking at what folks made – but you can see a few of the things below.
Lindsay (@lindsaymarsh) (left) of Baking Making and Crafting is looking at an embellished and embroidered purse made by Erin (sitting next to Lindsay). Veronica (right) is looking at a Christmas tree skirt made by Lynda (not pictured).
Pretty amazing details on Erin’s purse, eh? Erin’s philosophy is that if it doesn’t look right, just add more! She also brought a pirate jacket, which had all kinds of things going on – braid, ribbons, a tassel.
Beth of SunnyGal Studio talked about the Vogue dress (8904) she is wearing and a black jacket (on table) that she embellished with fringe. You can read her post about this fun striped knit dress here. She said the dress was easy to make – you attach the panels to another piece of fabric. To her left is Lisa (@jlellis) who brought her Grainline Moss skirt, which she recently finished. She really liked the pattern and said it was easy to make. Lisa did a nice job on the top stitching. Oh, and I should mention that she’s wearing a knit dress she made from the Red Velvet Dress pattern by Cake Patterns.
The black jacket is from Vogue pattern 7975. The pattern didn’t look very exciting but the addition of fringe gave it a very nice touch. Beth added fringe to the edged and to the pockets. She used the jacket fabric to make the fringe.
Here’s my out-of-focus photo of the jacket and the sample fringe, which Beth brought to the meeting. You sew the fringe fabric to a piece of silk organza. All of her fringe was along a straight edge but if you are going to put fringe along a curve, check out this post on bias fringe on the blog Communing with Fabric.
Here’s Lisa showing off the cardigan she made using Sewaholic’s Renfrew pattern. If you’re not familiar with it, the Renfrew is for a knit top with three different necklines to choose from, it’s not a cardigan pattern. So this is Lisa’s clever pattern hack. I have this pattern so I’ll definitely try making a cardigan once I get some tops done!
Allison (@allisoncole85) of i like candy talks about the things she made from the fabric she got at our fabric swap in March, including the top she’s wearing and a couple of the things in front of her. The embroidered and beaded fabric in front of her is a skirt that Veronica made. She’s often sitting around waiting for her kids at a practice or events so she spends her time doing some hand sewing like embroidery and beading. Her embroidery was very detailed and precise.
At the end of our discussion we held a drawing for Bluegingerdoll’s latest pattern, the Winifred Dress – and Lynda won the pattern! This indie pattern company, which launched just two years ago, is based in Australia. Lynda was excited to win because the pattern is drafted for larger busts. You can buy the pattern in paper or as a PDF download.
There are plenty of tutorials on the Winifred sewalong posts that were created for this pattern. The talented Heather (@knitnbee) of Handmade by Heather B, wrote up the various adjustments you can make, including one on full and small bust adjustments. I am in the middle of making my Winifred Dress and used the small bust adjustment instructions. [Full disclosure: Abby send me a copy of the pattern for me to try out.] Thank you Abby, Bluegingerdoll’s designer, for donating the pattern for our meetup!
After the pattern drawing some members continued to chat and others went on a tour of the smocking exhibit currently on display at Lacis and to check out the store. The smocking exhibit will be on display until October 4. There are docent tours on Saturdays – and if you go on a tour you can see the actual pink smocked dress Anne Hathaway wore in Les Miserables. It’s in a special room, separate from the rest of the exhibit. Only a few people at a time are allowed in to see the special items there. You can see a photo of it on this Jane Austen blog post Smocking: A Stitch in Time. But you can see it in person at Lacis! All I can say is that Anne Hathaway is very slender – such narrow shoulders!
On another note, our June 7 meetup at Lacis will be on fitting. If you have any suggestions about how we should use our time, please let me know. We’ll have the space for four hours. Some folks will be bringing their sewing machines. I figure we could have an area where people can get accurate measurements, maybe an FBA/SBA area, or something like that.
People will bring their muslins, etc. and we’ll all muddle along. If Loran of Loran’s World comes (if she’s not too jet lagged after her trip to Australia!), she can really help folks. She’s had plenty of fitting experience. My experience is limited to SBAs, wide shoulder adjustments, and a little waist tweaking.
I’m excited about this meetup because I’ll finally get to meet Angela (@bonnechanceblog) of Bonne Chance! She just moved up to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. She had wanted to come to our meetup this month but had to go apartment hunting instead.
Anyway, feel free to offer any tips about holding a fitting session! Thanks for visiting!