Completed: Knippie baby blouse

I sometimes find it difficult to sew for baby boys. One problem is that you can’t add too many cute frills because people might find it too girly. The second problem is that dresses are somehow just more fun to make. I usually end up making another Growing up sew liberated envelope tee. However, my colleagues have been creating a lot of boys lately so I’ve already given several of these tees away. It was high time for some diversification or risk people thinking I am a one-trick monkey.

140910_frontI still had some of the coronavirus fabric that would be great to use for a boy but the amount was somewhat limited so not every pattern was going to work. After much deliberation I chose blouse 6 from Knippie 5 2010 in size 74. If you compare the shirt I made with the line drawing you might notice that my version doesn’t look all that much like the drawing. First, I made short sleeves because of fabric limitations. Second, I don’t really like the western cowboy details so I left these completely off on the front and changed the curved yoke to a straight yoke and cut the back piece on the fold. I considered leaving out the yoke completely but inside yokes are pretty useful for embroidering sizes on so that persuaded me otherwise. I didn’t like the square pocket so left it off as well. In the pattern the front placket facing is cut separately which I really don’t understand when you don’t use a contrasting fabric (bulk, extra sewing, seriously why?) so I merged the front and front placket pattern pieces. On the sleeve piece some of the notches were missing but I didn’t have any trouble putting them in, it just took a little bit more care to get things properly aligned and eased in.

140910_detail collarThe main fabric is a baby corduroy that is really soft. It also doesn’t wrinkle much when it is washed which is a huge bonus for parents with young children. I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut the collar and used some left-over fabric from another make. I think it works very well and probably makes the shirt better looking than if it had just been the main fabric. It does seem to become a bit of a theme though, not having enough fabric for what I want to make. I’m not entirely sure what that says about my project planning and fabric buying skills…

openI didn’t have suitable buttons in my stash and used snaps. This is possibly also a safer option in clothes for young children but I found it a bit challenging and time consuming to get them all spaced equally. Don’t do this bit when you’re in a hurry. They look really good though. I placed the top snap a bit lower than they did in the line drawing because I don’t think baby’s like having a collar really tight aroung their neck.

I didn’t follow the Knippie assembly instructions. According to them topstitching of the collar is optional. Optional??? Not in my book. I used French seams for the side seams and the yoke trick (also called burrito method) for the shoulder seams. This encloses all seam allowances which looks really great in my opinion. The seam allowances of the sleeves were overlocked and then topstitched in place.

140910_inside detailThere are two things that I am not completely happy about. I accidently cut the back yoke piece upside down (getting creative with limited amounts of fabric does have its risks…). Luckily little kids mostly lie on their backs right? I also should have used a lighter thread for attaching the collar because on the inside you can now see the stitching line. Other than that I think it turned out very well and I will probably use this pattern again.

 

Completed: yet another Lady Skater t-shirt…

front colour blocked t-shirtI needed some simple projects to get going again and decided to fill a gap in my wardrobe: long sleeved t-shirts. Useful when it gets a little bit colder and a short sleeved t-shirt doesn’t provide enough coverage anymore but a cardigan or sweater is still too warm.

140907_sideIf you have been following this blog for a while you may have noticed that I usually use solid colours when sewing for myself and that I am not averse to some colour blocking. To make this t-shirt I used the same pattern as before but adapted it to give the top of the t-shirt a different colour. I even remembered to take some progress pictures so I could show you how I changed the pattern to achieve this look. This is a very easy method to give your favourite t-shirt (or dress) a different appearance.

The first step is tracing your pattern because you don’t want to mess with the original, you might want to use it again some other time. Make sure to include all relevant pattern markings, I forgot to add the straight of grain line for the sleeve at first…

trace pattern

Fresh pattern pieces!

The second step is to decide where you want to cut and mark this position on all pattern pieces (front, back and sleeve). I made a mark ¾’’ below the armpit. You could cut a little bit higher than that, but I would advise you to take into account that you are introducing extra seam allowances inside the shirt and you don’t want all of those to meet exactly at the armpit because that will become very bulky which is a pain to sew and might also not be too comfortable when wearing. If you only want a small strip of the second colour at the top you can also cut above the armpit. Check that the marks you made on the front and back bodice match and that the marks you made on the sides of the sleeve match as well.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Draw a line across the pattern pieces through the mark and cut the pattern. Make sure that both sides of each pattern piece are labelled correctly.

mark and cut

My pencil marks aren’t very clear but I first drew the cut line with pencil.

The Lady Skater pattern has the seam allowance included in the pattern. However, where I cut the pattern, the seam allowance is not yet included. This means that I have to remember to add the appropriate seam allowance when I cut the pattern from fabric. I use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to get a straight cut. You can also tape some extra tracing paper to the pattern and add the seam allowance to the pattern if you worry that you’ll forget.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

I chose to first sew top and bottom of each pattern piece together before assembling the t-shirt. You could topstitch the seams but I didn’t. For another look you could also only do this modification to the bodice to get a differently coloured yoke and leave the sleeves as they are.

pieces assembled

And it case you are wondering, yes, there will be jeans at some point, just not this week, I have too much other stuff going on…

140907_back

 

My boyfriend wrapped me in duct tape

frontA title like this could contain a very sinister story but in our case it was my idea to wrap duct tape around me. If you are a garment sewer you might already have guessed that I was after a dress form.

I aim to make clothes that fit but the fitting process can be quite lengthy if you have to fit yourself. For me it usually includes sewing a muslin, putting it on and going to our bedroom that has a full length mirror to see how it fits. With just one mirror it is, however, quite difficult to assess fit because you can’t really judge the fit from the side and back because you distort the garment when bending your head and body in an attempt to see what the garment looks like. Usually, I’ll go downstairs to take some pictures so I can assess what the garment looks like from those angles. I find pictures really helpful to assess fit issues.

backWhen the fit issues are clear it is time to make adjustments. It is easiest to make adjustments to a garment when it is on a body. When the garment is on your own body that does create some challenges. Adjustments to the front are usually doable. I’ll do them in front of the aforementioned mirror (all the while worried that I end up leaving pins in our bed, on my boyfriend’s side…). Adjustments to the back are more difficult. Most places are problematic to reach without ending up with a back injury so it often involves a lot of taking the garment off, guessing what needs to be done, trying it on (often also taking more pictures) and then trying something else. This can go on for quite a long time because I’m also still learning how to fix certain issues and a lot of what I do is trial and error.

sideI’ve been thinking for a long time that a dress form would be extremely helpful to decrease the time spent fitting. If I can make the initial large adjustments on a dress form and only have to do the final tweaking on my own body the whole process should go a lot faster.

My first thoughts went to a commercial dress form but I quickly realized that even if they are of the adjustable variety I’ll never get one that is exactly like my own body. I think the future of dress forms will include a body scanner and a 3D printer that recreates your body to perfection but I haven’t been able to find a company that already offers this (and at first it’ll probably be insanely expensive) so I went with the next best thing: duct tape.

There are loads of tutorials out there on how to make a dress form using duct tape so I’m not going into all the details here. I’ll just give three top tips. Use a close fitting t-shirt as a base and not a garbage bag. The fabric of the t-shirt adds a lot of support to the duct tape shell and I believe this helps the form to keep its shape.  Use non-stick scissors when you cut the dress form open to get out. Lastly, when closing the cut, start taping from the inside with the small lengths of duct tape and try to align the cut as best as you can. If you are happy with the alignment, put some tape on the outside as well, then move onto the next segment. Taping from both sides will make the seam stronger and you’ll have less chance the form will pop open at some point.

Cut open dress form. I later cut off the top of the pants that wasn't attached to the duct tape.

Cut open dress form. I later cut off the top of the pants that wasn’t attached to the duct tape.

 

Feeling a little deflated...

Feeling a little deflated…

I started with a long sleeved scoop neck t-shirt but sewed some ribbed knit onto the neckline to create more of a turtle neck because I wanted to include part of my neck in the form (it’s easier to start with a turtle neck but I didn’t have one). Because my hips are the widest part of my body I find they also affects how tops look on me so I decided to include my hips and upper legs in the form as well so I also wore close fitting sports pants.

We used one layer of duct tape and two layers on some areas that I felt needed some more support. I bought two rolls of 50 meter each but we ended up using less than one roll. I would advise you to buy more than you think you’ll need because you don’t want to realise half-way through taping that you’re running out and need to go to a store to buy more. It’s not that comfortable to be wrapped in duct tape…

You should choose someone you trust to do the taping because it’s quite an intimate process. It was also a bit scary to have someone use scissors this close to my bottom.

Getting some shape as the form is stuffed.

Getting some shape as the form is stuffed.

My form was stuffed with filling from old pillows and some stuffed toys filling. I chose to put a hanger inside so I can hang the form somewhere when fitting. If you don’t include the legs you could also make it so it stands on a desk or insert a stand. In a future sewing room I’ll probably make something on the wall so I can hang the form permanently. For now I’ll make do with a hook a previous tenant left in our bedroom ceiling. The only thing she really lacks is collapsible shoulders, but I think that feature will have to wait until those body scanning companies are up and running.

duct tape dress form

Do you have a dress form and do you find it helpful for fitting?

Sewing jeans: Muslin 4

First I’ll show you some changes I made to muslin 3 to improve the fit.

At the front I pinned out a horizontal dart and added some fabric to finally fix that wavy side seam (this latter part is better visible in the side view of the muslin).

muslin front

The change I made to the paper pattern to add that extra room to the front is possibly different from how you think it was done so I took some pictures. I chose not to add this extra space by adding onto the side seam because that most likely would have changed the length of the front side seam and then it wouldn’t have been the same length anymore as the back side seam. Instead I made a vertical cut in my pattern and created a lot of hinge points at the side seam. In the muslin I measured at several point how much room I had to add. The hinge points made it possible to curve the original side seam to mimic what I had done in the muslin.

straighten side seam

1. Slice in the pattern as you did in the muslin. 2. Create hinge points, I accidently cut some of those too close so they teared… 3. Tape a piece of tracing paper underneath the pattern and shape side seam to add additional room to pattern.

At the back I struggled a bit and ended up adding another wedge across. Not sure whether that was really necessary… In the end I decided that the way I had taken out the extra space I had taken out at the yoke wasn’t right and created the weird shaping so for muslin 4 I redrafted this curve in the pattern.

140811_muslin3_back

140811_muslin3_side

Then onto muslin 4. I didn’t have enough fabric left to make it full length so I made it as long as I could with the fabric I had left over from muslin 1 and 2.

140811_back curveFor this muslin I redrew the back seam because I needed to fix the problems I had created by taking out all of the gaping I had at the center back of the yoke. In the muslin you can see that I am now planning to remove this excess by pinning it out as if they are back darts. This will create some shaping in the yoke pieces and I think this should get rid of the gaping. I also realised that the curve I had at center back wasn’t deep enough to accomodate my curves so I changed it as shown in the picture on the left. Perhaps I’ll have to scoop it out yet a little bit more.

In muslin 3 I felt that after I straightened the side seam it was still located a bit too much towards the front of the trousers so I moved it back by 1 cm in the pattern. This was done by making a vertical slice in both front and back pattern pieces. The front piece was taped to some extra tracing paper adding an extra cm. The back was overlapped to take out 1 cm. Don’t forget to also make this change to the yoke piece!

muslin 4 front

Still a couple of wrinkels at the crotch, but not too bad. The top of the trousers aren’t straight so I’ll have to change that. I think moving the side seam backwards is an improvement.

muslin 4 back

I do think the back looks better but now there is some fabric pooling that I’ll have to get rid off. This picture is also a bit slanted…

muslin 4 side

Side seam is much straighter. Top front is a bit lower than the back.

Since jeans are usually supposed to fit quite tight when you put them on I think I’ll make them a bit more fitted at the side- and inseam because the muslin is a bit loose right now and I think they will end up too loose when sewn in a stretch denim.

I’m afraid I’ll have to make at least 1 more muslin… Can you believe I am already dreaming of all the easy no fuss tops I’m going to make after I finally finish these jeans?

 

Sewing jeans: Making samples

topstitchingthread

Do you ever get started enthusiastically on a project and then suddenly lose steam? That’s what happened with my muslin process. I was a bit tired and didn’t have much time so not much progress was made and now I have to motivate myself to get back to it. I have finished muslin 4 though and I think I’m really close to getting a good fit. I’ll probably write about it after the weekend. Now I want to show you another part of the sewing process, collecting all the materials and testing out different techniques before using them on the actual garment.

needle&thread

Also important: a supply of fresh denim needles!

I already bought some denim and matching thread for this project a while ago. All my RTW jeans are blue so I thought it would be fun to use a different colour for this pair and chose grey. I like how the fabric looks and feels, but it is quite lightweight so probably more suitable to wear in summer than winter (so I’d better hurry up making these!).

In Angela Wolff’s Craftsy class she shows how to distress denim with sandpaper to get that worn look that most RTW jeans have. I wasn’t really sure how well that would work on my fabric so I tested it and it’s not a success. It makes the fabric fuzzy which doesn’t look very pretty so for this pair I’ll give the distressing part a miss. I’ll have to try it on something else though!

Fabric on the left is not distressed, fabric on the right was distressed with sandpaper.

Fabric on the left is not distressed, fabric on the right was distressed with sandpaper. It’s turned a bit fuzzy.

I my opinion topstitching in contrasting thread is one of the scary parts of sewing jeans. It is so visible and if it isn’t done right it can really brand your make as homemade. For my jeans I bought two colours of Coats Epic 40 thread to try out. Black and a brown that is really close to black. First I tried which stitch length would look best and decided on 4.0. I also tried some stitches to use on the back pocket embroidery (another scary part…). I used the black thread for my samples but I think in the end I prefer the brownish thread over the black one because it is a little more subtle. I’ll have to practise a bit more though to get my double rows of topstitching consistent before I attempt this on the actual jeans.

stitch length

I also tried a keyhole buttonhole.

In bag making one trick to make your bag look professional is to throw some metal hardware at it and I think this might be true for jeans as well. I bought some metal rivets and jeans buttons that I can apply with my Prym pliers. Rivets are typically used in jeans to reinforce pocket corners. I got enough of both in each packet that I could try them out to see how well they behave when I apply them. It worked surprisingly well. It also made me realise that I have to think how I want the button oriented before I put it into the fabric. I think my jeans will feature at least a couple of rivets.

140808_rivetandbutton

I am not yet ready to get started on my jeans because I still need to perfect the fit but I think I do have everything I need to finish this pair. I’ve also already made some design decisions, like which thread to use for the topstitching and what stitch length to use. This will speed up the sewing process because I won’t have to stop to test this anymore. I also don’t have to quit in the middle of a sewing frenzy because I forgot to buy a zipper (I have a huge stash of zippers and something is bound to be suitable). Testing these things also makes for a nice change from making muslins.

This fabric was distressed before topstitching. It's also fuzzy.

This fabric was distressed before topstitching. It’s also fuzzy.

Do you generally make samples before trying something new?

I'll need to experiment some more...

I’ll need to experiment some more…

Sewing jeans: Muslin 3

Before I show you what muslin 3 looks like I first want to show how I adapted muslin 2 into muslin 2.1 to determine how to change the pattern.

I started with a very simple alteration. Muslin 2 showed a lot of fabric being pulled into the crotch indicating the crotch length was not long enough. The trousers were also very tight across my thighs indicating I needed some more room there. I solved both issues by doing what “The Perfect Fit” one of the fitting books I own, calls a full thigh adjustment. The pattern is extended both at the side- and inseam which lengthens the crotch seam and increases thigh circumference. The red lines in the schematic below indicate how I re-sewed the seams in muslin 2 and changed the pattern for muslin 3. I also removed the gaping I had at the yoke.

full thigh adjustment

These 2 changes already made a huge difference to the fit as you can see below.

Muslin 2.1 front

Notice how the straight of grain lines have become much straighter and more horizontal.

 

Muslin 2.1 back

Wrinkles at the knee have disappeared. Straight of grain lines are straighter and more horizontal. Yoke lies nicely against my back. It no longer looks like I am about to burst out of these.

Muslin 2.1 Side

Wrinkles at the knee have mostly disappeared. Side seam has become straighter. There appears to be less strain on the fabic on my butt.

After I changed this I noticed I could remove some of the wrinkles I still had at the front by pinning out 2 darts. I made this alteration in the pattern by slicing the pattern open and overlapping the edges to simulate the dart I had pinned out. This does not change the side seam.

pinned darts front

At the back I thought I probably still needed to add some more length to the crotch seam so I sliced the muslin open horizontally and inserted some fabric. This did seem to improve the fit at the back and the muslin became more comfortable to wear so I made this alteration in the pattern as well. This is done by slicing the pattern open and creating a hinge point at the side seam. You can then add a wedge to the pattern by sliding the center back upwards. The side seam does not change.

adjustment to back

After I had made all these changes I decided it was time to make muslin 3 to check whether the changes I made on the pattern were correct. Unfortunately I ran out of muslin fabric (why did I ever think 3 meters would be enough???) and had to use something a bit lighter weight than ideal but I didn’t want to wait until I had the opportunity to get some new fabric. The fit is still not perfect but I think you’ll agree this is definitely an improvement over where I started with muslin 2!

Muslin 3 front

Still not 100% happy with the crotch, but overall I don’t think this looks too bad. Side seam at the thigh is perhaps still a bit too much to the front.

 

I still need to add more lenght to the back crotch lenght because fabric is still being pulled in. My alterations at center back caused the center back seam to be a bit strangely shaped so I'll need to reshape it.

I still need to add more lenght to the back crotch seam because fabric is still being pulled in. My alterations at center back caused the center back seam to be a bit strangely shaped and it sticks out so I’ll need to reshape it.

Muslin 3 side

Side seam still not completely straight. Center back seam sticks out.

How many muslins do you think I’ll end up making before I dare cut into my denim?

Sewing jeans: Muslin 2

If you are now wondering whether you missed a post about muslin 1. You didn’t. I had originally planned to blog the whole fitting process but muslin 1 was unfortunately not suitable for public display due to indecent exposure of underwear.

I am attempting to sew myself a pair of well-fitting jeans. I’ve wanted to do so for years because I am never completely happy with the fit of RTW jeans, yet jeans are what I wear most days. In summer I am a jeans and t-shirt girl, the rest of the year I’m a jeans, t-shirt and cardigan girl. With my RTW fast the need to finally make these self-made jeans happen is getting more urgent. Sewbusylizzy organised a Jeans in June and July challenge and this was the final push I needed to get started. Not sure whether I’ll actually manage to finish an actual pair in July since August is already looming on the horizon and I have to work all remaining July days except for today but if I finish the muslin process in July I’m happy (and if not, I’m probably still happy).

I already had a pair of jeans stashed away that I had started copying using the method from Kenneth D. Kings Craftsy class. I started that project ages ago but got distracted and was also a bit scared to continue because my first ever attempt at trousers years ago failed horribly and caused a bit of a trauma.

Tracing pattern onto silk organza

copying jeans

The original jeans were copied by thread tracing the seams and straight of grain lines and then transferring these markings to silk organza. If you want to get a better idea of how this method works have a look at this post by Cindy from cationdesigns, she posted about this process in more detail earlier this week. The pattern was then transferred from silk organza onto Swedish tracing paper (my favourite type of tracing paper ever). The pattern was trued (which means making sure that all seams have the correct shape and that seams that are supposed to match up, do in fact match up) and I made a muslin. I made my muslin using regular muslin fabric without stretch, because this is what Angela Wolff recommends even if your fashion fabric contains lycra. I’m really hoping this will work out ok when I do sew my final pair in denim that contains some lycra and is, therefore, somewhat stretchy…

Anyway, as you may have guessed after reading the first paragraph of this post, they did not fit. In fact, they were super tight and couldn’t close (to be honest the original jeans are also a bit on the tight side). I made 3 changes to the pattern. 1. An adjustment for full inner thighs. 2. More room at center back. 3. More room at side seam of back. I probably could have tried to change more but worried that it would get so messy that transferring my changes to the pattern would become a nightmare.

After making these changes to the pattern I made muslin 2 from the same muslin fabric hoping I would now have something approaching wearable. Note that this muslin does not yet have a waistband. I’ve used waxed tracing paper to indicate the straight of grain lines. I’ve also added some horizontal lines that help to diagnose fit issues. These are definitely not the most flattering pictures I have ever posted of myself but I think I am now at a point that it seems likely I can get to a fitting pair at some point. Remember, it’s always the garment that is causing the horrible fit, your body is just fine! After all, I can change the garment to adjust for my shape but I can hardly adjust my shape to fit the garment. Well, I suppose I could get a surgeon to shave some flesh of my thighs but that doesn’t really seem like a workable approach to use for each new garment I want to make…

Muslin front

Do you notice how the fabric is pulled into the crotch causing distortions?

Muslin back

Again fabric is pulled into the crotch. It’s also pulled towards the sides. I will also need to change the placement of the back pockets at the end of the process to make sure they end up more centered.

muslin sides

Eventually the side seam should end up perpendicular to the floor. Right now there is too much strain because fabric is being pulled to areas where there isn’t enough fabric causing a wave-like shape

Obviously they are still too tight but at least I can close them now. I believe most of the issues are caused by a too short crotch length that is causing the fabric to be pulled into the crotch both at the front and back. I think I will also need to add some more room in the thigh area as they are still very tight. My previous adjustments at center back now causes some gaping at the yoke (something I nearly always get in RTW jeans) so I’ll fix that too.

Do you have any other suggestions for adjustments that I could make to get a better fit?